Design Holding to Roll Out New Store Concept

MILAN — Complete your home in true European style, in one stop.

Italy’s leading high-end design, furniture and lighting company Design Holding is gearing up to unfurl a new store concept to complete the home, targeting first- and second-tier cities in the U.S. and Asia.

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Founded in November 2018, Design Holding comprises leading brands B&B Italia, Flos, Menu, By Lassen, Lumens, Louis Poulsen, Arclinea, Maxalto, Azucena and Fendi Casa through a joint venture with the Roman fashion house. It has a presence in more than 130 countries.

Under the new concept, Design Holding’s brands will dialogue with each other in one open space, unlike a showroom concept where brands and their products are isolated from each other.  In the U.S., Design Holding’s expansion of its brands provides American consumers, decorators and designers the chance to better explore the company’s high-end brands in a market that is dominated by mid- to accessible luxury players like Williams-Sonoma Inc. and Restoration Hardware.

“The experience that comes with physical stores offers a curated environment which is unique and can inspire customers and our architecture and design community,” the company said.  Its chief executive officer Daniel Lalonde has said the firm’s goal is to become the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton of the design industry.

There are a slew of directly operated store openings to come in 2023 in markets that are increasingly important to its industry, particularly in North America and Asia Pacific.

In the U.S., a retail hub on Manhattan’s Madison Avenue is expected to span 18,360 square feet and will feature B&B Italia, Maxalto, Azucena, Flos and Louis Poulsen products. A new B&B Italia Design Studio in Miami will span 16,200 square feet and will include top brands B&B Italia, Maxalto, Azucena, Flos, Louis Poulsen and Arclinea. New store openings in Washington, D.C., and Boston will feature B&B Italia, Maxalto and Arclinea.

In the 12 months ended Dec. 31, revenues rose by 25.8 percent to 867.6 million euros, compared with 2021, boosted by business in the U.S. and Asia Pacific, as well as its high-end contract business. Lalonde told WWD that the company is on track to hit 1 billion euros in sales in the near term.

An Arclinea kitchen. Courtesy of Design Holding

The Boston store will be finalized by May in place of Montage, which for decades has been regarded by Boston residents as a reference for European style, with its selection of contemporary design pieces.  Located on 75 Arlington Street, the B&B Italia and Maxalto Store is located in the heart of the Back Bay shopping district and spread over two floors, covering almost 13,000 square feet. The store will showcase B&B Italia, Maxalto and Arclinea together. The latter will be ready by fall 2023.

Other B&B Italia openings are planned in Washington in the Georgetown district on 3330 M Street NW, a neighborhood characterized by its brick town homes, boutiques and restaurants. This new location will span 11,880 square feet and will feature monobrand spaces dedicated to B&B Italia, Maxalto and Arclinea. The opening is slated for June.

Across the board, interior brands are focusing on smaller cities, since the pandemic prompted consumers of luxury goods to search for larger houses and more outdoor space in areas outside the traditional metropolises.

According to a 2023 Wealthiest Cities report by residency and passport consultancy Henley & Partners, second-tier cities are only getting richer, thus creating demand for high-end furnishings and European standards in less saturated markets. In terms of the fastest growing millionaire populations, the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, with 285,000 high-net-worth individuals with a total of 63 billionaires, ranks number three of worldwide cities with the deepest pockets. By comparison, New York City ranks number one with 340,000 HNWIs and 58 billionaires. Los Angeles ranked sixth, Chicago 11th, Houston 15th, Shenzhen in China 24th, Boston 26th and Miami 28th.

According to Henley & Partners, in 2022, the number of Boston’s high-net-worth individuals rose 50 percent year-on-year. To accommodate the inflow of techies and pharma giants, the New England city is also in the throes of massive residential housing expansion with new districts like the Seaport and towers popping up in the newly revived area in and around the Zakim Bridge.

The Boston Seaport
The Boston Seaport

In tandem with its development plans, Design Holding has been working on the expansion of innovative products and potential future icons such as the Dambo sofa by Piero Lissoni and Tortello sofa by Edward Barber & Jay Osgerby for B&B Italia; the Ceramique table lamp by R. Bouroullec; the Black Flag lamp by Konstantin Grcic for Flos, and the Thea kitchen by Antonio Citterio for Arclinea. Louis Poulsen and Fendi Casa came together to debut an exclusive collaboration during Milan Design Week and the collection is composed of five Louis Poulsen icons designed by Poul Henningsen that are reimagined to subtly reflect Fendi’s distinctive code.

New collaborations have also taken place across the fashion industry, such as the Stella McCartney x B&B Italia three-piece capsule that launched at Art Basel in December 2022, marking the British eco-conscious designer’s first-ever interiors collaboration.

Lalonde recently explained to WWD that consumers of luxury fashion and accessories are the same ones that understand the artisanal, enduring quality and history behind Design Holding’s galaxy of brands and products.

“What we share with luxury brands is the same customer. He or she has the same Birkin bag, a Tank watch [Cartier], Jimmy Choo shoes, a Camaleonda sofa from B&B Italia and an Artichoke and Arco lamp from Louis Poulsen and Flos,” contended Lalonde.

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