This summer, the Marmo team have been working tirelessly on one of our most bespoke projects to date, the Louis Vuitton store at Terminal 3, London Heathrow Airport. Our works commenced in June of this year. Now, three months, three phases, 175 stencils and countless night shifts later, the store is complete, and we are delighted to be able to share the final result.
It feels particularly poignant to have been involved in Louis Vuitton's store fit-out at Heathrow Airport, the largest in the UK, given the apt heritage of this prestigious brand.
In 1837, Louis Vuitton began his career as an apprentice for Monsieur Marechal at just 16 years old, producing custom design boxes and trunks for clients wishing to protect their luggage when travelling by carriage, boat and train. Vuitton stayed at Monsieur Marechal for 17 years before opening his own workshop and since then, the brand has expanded exponentially, with Louis Vuitton becoming the world's most valuable luxury fashion brand. Alongside the iconic trunks, Louis Vuitton is now also famous for it's luxury handbags, shoes, watches, jewellery and accessories.
Now an international fashion symbol, the brand's signature Monogram canvas was created by Louis Vuitton's son and successor, Georges Vuitton, in 1986, as a tribute to his late father. It is this well-known Monogram which inspires the wallpaper design we were tasked with recreating for the ceiling of the Heathrow store.
In February 2023, we were approached by the main contractor heading up this prestigious project, who asked if we would be able to create a bespoke Venetian Plaster sample for the store ceiling, to replicate the pattern on a sample of Louis Vuitton wallpaper. This was a complex effect to replicate; the sample production process involved obtaining a bespoke stencil, performing a bespoke colour match, and applying two contrasting Venetian Plaster finishes, our Marmorino Spatula and our Pitted Venetian Plaster.
The images to the left below are of the sample of Louis Vuitton wallpaper we were provided with and tasked with replicating. The images to the right below are of the Venetian Plaster sample Marmo created to replicate the wallpaper effect.
In addition to the stencil design for the ceiling, we were tasked with creating several further bespoke Venetian Plaster samples to be approved for various wall areas and panelling throughout the store. Our client required Venetian Plaster samples to match various bespoke wallpaper samples, which were unfortunately not fit for purpose for installation on this project due to the strict fire regulations in place at Heathrow Airport.
As might be expected for a high-profile project of this nature and scale, there was a lengthy sample selection and approval process, throughout which we were in regular contact with our client, the main contractor, as well as members of the store planning and store design team at Louis Vuitton. We produced a wide range of samples of various colours, patterns and textures, and the majority of the finishes approved were created especially by Marmo's Managing Director, Richard, using bespoke, hand-made tools and innovative application techniques.
The image below shows all of the wallpaper samples provided by the client (bottom row) alongside all of the samples created by Marmo to match the varying colours and textures within the design brief (top row).
For the ceiling area, our Pitted Venetian Plaster was applied first, covering approximately 175m2, and left to dry before the team began applying 175 individual sheets of vinyl stencil. Once the stencils were in place, we applied our Marmorino Spatula plaster. Once dry, our team began the arduous process of removing the stencil, hand-picking a total of 72,000 vinyl petals from the ceiling, exposing the Pitted Venetian Plaster beneath. The resulting effect is a repeated series of glossy diamonds and textured petals.
The panels, designed to be integrated within store display shelving, were manufactured by a joinery contractor and delivered to Marmo HQ to be decorated with the approved specialist plaster finish at our workshop in Epsom.
The remainder of our works were completed on-site during night-shifts, however the store began trading towards the latter end of the final phase of work. Under normal circumstances, night work would usually mitigate the challenges of working in an open store, but in London's busiest airport, this was not the case. With the store open and trading, we had to be mindful of protecting customers, high-value stock and store displays, whilst also working towards a tight deadline.
Whilst it is alway a pleasure to be awarded a contract for high-profile brand, the honour is even greater when we are able to play a more integral role in the design process. Every sample approved for this project was bespoke, tailored to meet the client's unique design brief. In the completed store, our finishes are integrated seamlessly within the overall design scheme, and compliment the Louis Vuitton merchandise beautifully, demonstrating the level of consideration and expertise which have driven this design project.