Professional Jeweler Archive: Cartier's Contemporary Makeover

March 2004

Image/Store Design

Cartier's Contemporary Makeover

It's pure theater at the luxury retailer's new boutiques

Even before customers enter the first newly redesigned Cartier boutique in North America, they may feel as if they are standing in front of a stage. Etched grillwork is backed by windows that contain diaphanous drapes reminiscent of small theatrical displays. The window drapes open at showtime (when the store opens) and close in the evenings.

Inside the 1,400-sq.-ft. boutique, located at Americana Mall in Manhasset, Long Island, NY, the windows allow shoppers to focus on the jewels, watches and other Cartier products that are housed in freestanding cases inside. Marble accents enhance the beige wood. Cushioned seats provide
a comfortable atmosphere. Some customers may even feel as though they are in a private library. Still, the theatrical motif carries on, as room after room unfolds dramatically in a floor plan that suggests secrets yet to be revealed.

The main salon, which serves as a waiting area, features bookshelves, drapes, chestnut and bronze-toned parquet floors and silk rugs. This airy space opens to an inviting sales area leading into an alcove where customers will find a curio cabinet, which is an 18th century name for a desk with a secret wall. Drawers lined with red velvet conceal the jewelry to be shown, in private, to the customer. Champagne might be poured here as the customer peruses the jewelry.

Jeweled plaster built into wall niches in this intimate space were created by artist Keiichi Tahara.

Recognizable Symbols

As Cartier spreads its boutiques worldwide, the blueprint for their design already does brisk business on Rue de la Paix in Paris. The Paris and Tokyo stores opened just before the Manhasset store did in November. The store was created in partnership with Mark and Candy Udell, owners of London Jewelers, located next door. The Udells operate four other London Jewelers stores on Long Island. “We have enjoyed a longstanding relationship with London Jewelers as a Cartier-authorized dealer,” says Stanislas de Quercize, Cartier U.S. president and CEO.

The Udells are pleased with the results. “The boutique is inviting and has a comfortable design,” says Candy Udell. “It’s warm and contemporary at the same time.” The dominant taupe is less formal than Cartier’s more traditional burgundy, creating a more relaxed selling environment. Burgundy remains for packaging and displays.

Also notable, she adds, is technology that includes fiber-optic lighting in the showcases and a security system that requires an employee to wave a “wand” over a showcase to open it. “It’s a special magnetic system – customers often ask how it works,” she says. The appearance of these “magical” properties hidden within the store adds drama to the already enhanced Cartier redesign.

The successful opening begins a nationwide renovation of the other 32 Cartier boutiques (plus two in Canada), including the Costa Mesa, CA, location that opened with the new design in January. Architect Bruno Moinard is in charge of the project worldwide.

– by Michael Thompson

The new Cartier boutique on Long Island features diaphanous curtains that, in a theatrical touch, open at the beginning of the day and close in the evenings.
In a dramatic theatrical layout, rooms unfold as customers walk through Cartier’s redesigned boutiques. The ultimate destination is an alcove featuring a desk with a secret wall where jeweled treasures are shown in private.

Copyright © 2004 by Bond Communications