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VM inspiration: Frank Gehry's displays for Louis Vuitton

Anyone who has wandered down London’s Bond Street recently will have seen the giant metal sails in Louis Vuitton’s windows. Star architect, Frank Gehry has designed the installation, nicely promoting his new gallery for Louis Vuitton, the Fondation Louis Vuitton, which opens in Paris on the 27th October.

What began as an art collection has become a means of promoting culture and art, and Gehry’s signature curving metal (as at the Guggenheim in Bilbao, or the Walt Disney Concert Hall in L.A.) has become sails for the collection’s new home in the Bois de Bologne. Gehry’s inspiration for the building is the Grand Palais in Paris, itself inspired by London’s Crystal Palace.

To the idea of the Grand Palace, an exhibition centre built in 1900, Gehry has added wind-filled sails, which envelope the iceberg centre of the building. The curving walls of the Spanish Guggenheim are challenging for the display of very large canvases, so the iceberg may be a nod to practicality. Meanwhile Gehry, who worked with the LV team, has had fun with the store promotion.

The shiny metal sails are secured in place by unvarnished timber masts and spars, accentuating the ‘truth to materials’ look of contrasting minimally-finished materials that we have seen so much during past decade. The masts are anchored in giant cubes of wood, a stylized platform sailboard, or cube of a dinghy in the one sail window; a lateen-rigged ketch in the two sail window; and almost a kite- or windsurfer-like frozen moment in the windows with two bodyform mannequins.

Throughout the backdrop is the same metal-repeat that we see on the fascia above the store, based on an LV print. The unvarnished boat hulls contrast beautifully with the classic herringbone parquet window floors and even the flagpoles, minus their flags, echo the nautical theme at the front of the store: very pleasing to the eye.

I particularly loved that the windows on the first floor have the same installation too. I guess not too many passersby look up, but how nice to see consistent thinking.