Hirshleifer’s Shoe Salon, located in Manhasset in America, was built to a project by Italian architect Sergio Mannino, who graduated in Florence and collaborates in Italy with Ettore Sottsass and Remo Buti. The practice is now based in New York and consists of a collective of creatives who claim to have «their roots in Italian culture and design». This cultural origin is clearly represented in this commercial interior. Every detail, finish and colour pays tribute to the world of art and the history of design, both Italian and American given the specific geographical location of the store. As a result, two different styles and approaches coexist in the same space, blending together and finding their own point of equilibrium. On the one hand there are references to the Minimal Art of Sol LeWitt, Carl Andre and Donald Judd, while on the other the project is inspired by the Italian Radical Design that emerged towards the end of the 1960s. These two philosophies combine with subtle irony and absolute precision: «The strict formalism of the minimalists (whose formal precision is also clearly evident in the obsessive attention to detail typical of Italian culture) is subverted at certain points by the so-called follies, unexpected and surprising elements.» Inside a bright space with clean lines and pure volumes are to be found curious and eccentric objects: a glass case resting on a sofa (in homage to Giò Ponti and a design object he created in 1967), a sculpture made of elegantly curved neon tubes emitting artificial white light (a specific reference to Lucio Fontana’s work «Concetti Spaziali»), and a «blood red» wall that acts as a backdrop. Another tongue-in-cheek expedient adopted in the design process is a reference to the world of the theatre and staging: in spite of appearances, nothing in the store is real or natural. The floor covering displays wood grain but in reality is made of ceramic; the red poufs from the Fjord collection (produced by Moroso and designed by Patricia Urquiola) look hard but are in fact soft and covered with supple fabric and leather.
The store becomes a kind of art gallery in which the displayed shoes are exhibited like creative sculptures. Separated from mundane contexts, the footwear is displayed on glazed shelves, in crystal cases or inside recesses containing niches of various sizes. Most of the walls do not have flat backdrops but volumes forming interlocking spaces, niches, projections and recesses that serve to highlight the displayed items. The completely transparent full-height store window draws the observer powerfully into the colourful, bright and lively world of the interior.
The project won an honourable mention in the Commercial Retail category of the 2013 Ceramics of Italy Tile Competition for its interior characteristics and skilful use of an Italian ceramic tiled carpet.
Impronta Ceramiche, Esko series
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): compliant
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): compliant
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): compliant
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): compliant
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R9
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): compliant