June 14, 2017




Chiara Marchionni is an Italian architect living and working in London. Originally from Le Marche, she is well-dressed and well-travelled, and exudes that enviable Italian flair in everything she does. She has a great eye for detail and as a retail architect, she works with aspirational and luxury brand names, to design and create aesthetically pleasing environments worldwide. The function of these signature retail spaces is not only to showcase collections and attract customers, but to express brand personality and communicate the brand values. Of more recent design importance, is the ability to transcend borders and be successful globally.


The interview:

1. As an architect, what inspires you the most?

From a young age, I had a passion for observing things. My mum is an Art Professor and since childhood, the world of Art and Architecture has always surrounded me.

Books also inspire me, but as I was born in Italy, inspiration was on my doorstep, and little excursions to Rome and other cities where I discovered masterpieces inspired me from a very early age. The masters of Art and Architecture have always been inspirational to me. The shadows in Caravaggio´s painting can be perfectly applied to an architectural environment.

Then there are all the historical buildings that provide inspiration, from ancient Roman ruins to more contemporary works by architects such as Ben van Berkel (UN Studio) and the late, great Zaha Hadid.

People I know inspire me too. It is always good in my job to be a listener, to understand the needs and points of view of others, on different things.

Finally, the cities I have lived in and would like to live in one day: Amsterdam, London, Rome, Paris and New York. I use social media to discover new places and landscapes.


2. When it comes to colour – are you expressive or more minimalistic in your choice?

I would consider my personal style minimalistic with a twist. Alvar Aalto meets Odile Decq. A beautiful silk white dress with red lining.

I experimented with and studied many different styles when I was at University, to try to understand my own personal style.

I think that there is such a beauty in a clean white space, that is perfectly well-lit. But there has to be an element of contrast; It could be something colourful, with an eccentric texture and pattern.


3. When you design a retail environment, how do achieve balance?

Every architectural design has to respond to the needs and aspirations of the client and the people that will use the space. The same happens in interior design. The creative concept that is at the beginning of the process needs to be adapted as the project progresses from stage to stage, following meetings with the other people involved; creative directors, visual merchandising teams, sales teams, etc.

People will have to use the space and display the merchandise in the way that the products themselves become the stars within the space. It is like an art gallery, you don’t want to focus too much on what is around, but rather on the objects that are displayed. In the end, it is all about that. The need for focal points.

That is why I prefer to use subtle colour palettes and I rely heavily on great lighting. It is like creating a stage for a great monologue.


4. In any given retail space, which design element do you feel is the most overlooked?

I would say the fitting rooms. Sometimes they are an after-thought, and constructed with little to no budget allocation. Yet it is this area of the store that the customer is likely to dwell, and spend the most time in. In my design projects, I give them focus and I always decorate them, to let the customer feel that he/she is still in the beautiful store they just entered. Something as simple as a pouf in the waiting area is such a small investment but it makes people happy! Especially husbands.


5. What fashion designers do you enjoy wearing and why?

I usually wear more than one brand. I started to be very conscious about what I wear and I do a lot of research before I buy. Saying that, I am a big Stella McCartney fan. I really admire her for the smart tailoring that works for every age group, the different textures and her use of colours. I´m fascinated by her vision of life. I like how she pushes boundaries and experiments to find new, sustainable and beautiful materials.


6. Which architects do you admire most and why?

This is a quite complex question. I think every architect I have met has left something good or bad in my idea of what ‘Architecture’ is. I love Borromini (1599 –1667), an Italian architect that quite often put ‘creativity’ ahead of mathematical rules.

I can´t stop studying and learning from the masterpieces of Oscar Niemeyer (1907 –2012). His use of curves, lines and shadows created such strong and beautiful spaces.

If we talk about contemporary architects, I have to mention Massimiliano Fuksas. I had the pleasure of working in his office in Rome a few years ago and I learned so much. He is a genius when it comes to creativity, yet his works are clean and luxurious. There is a lot to learn.


7. With so much international travel, where do you think is the best shopping destination?

I have to be patriotic and say Rome. I generally don’t shop in shopping malls, I lose my way easily, that is why shopping in Rome is heaven for me. I don’t get bored, moving from one store to the other as there is so much to see every step of the way! And the store assistants are very nice, helpful and happy.


8. Do you have a favourite design classic?

My partner is an architect too and now and then, we like to invest in design pieces. I prefer to buy timeless objects that I can see and enjoy in front of my eyes, every day. My favourite piece, which is impossible for me to have here in London due to space restrictions, is our Arco floor lamp. It is a lamp designed in 1962, but still today, it remains so contemporary. The clever use of steel and marble creates a beautiful contrast between the tones, textures and weight of the materials.


9. Which building would you like to own or live in? 

I would love to have an apartment in one of the Barbican towers. To be high up in the London skyline, with that fantastic view. As a building, it is a masterpiece, I never get bored to visit. Living there would be a dream.


10. Do you have plans for when you are off duty this summer?

In July I will visit Puglia, in the south of Italy. I will be in the Fasano area, where all the beautiful white mansions are and will stay in a historic ´´Masseria´´ that still retains the original tower and characteristic design language. I love Puglia because you can live however you choose to there. You can dress up and go to very beautiful and luxurious places to have dinner or just a drink, and watch the sunset. I would recommend drinks and dinner at ´´Grotta Palazzese´´ (Polignano a Mare).

Shopping is amazing too. They have beautiful ceramics and authentic espadrilles, everything is local and handmade. If you want a holiday just to slow down and recharge the batteries, you can just spend the day relaxing in the sun. Whatever, it’s up to you.

I will visit the little towns in the area, eat very well, and meet my dear friends who live there.

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Sizing Chart

























BUST cms

84 (82-86)

88 (86-90)

92 (90-94)

96 (94-98)


64 (62-66)

68 (66-70)

72 (70-74)

76 (74-78)

HIP cms

90 (88-92)

94 (92-96)

98 (96-100)

102 (100-104)


BUST: Measure around the fullest part of your chest

WAIST: Measure around the narrowest part of your waistline

HIP: Measure at the fullest part of your hips


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