A car, standing alone against a ledwall backdrop, monopolises a shop window, announcing Maserati's new presence in Milan.
The location is one of the luxurious addresses in the Magenta district. Inside, like a large "island" in the middle of a lounge bar area, a counter appears for the customer reception and the configuration of models.
In subdued light, dipped in a colour palette evocating the earth and the villages of Italian countryside, rims and wheels and a selection of precious leather samples are concealed behind the sliding glass panels of a mural display by Cassina, like in a jewelry shop.
Conceiving the right space for selling car is an endeavor that through the decades has always been subject to a constant tension for change, a ceaseless race for the most grounbreaking strategy. In particular, Maserati's new Milanese store recalls two aspects. One is about bringing the automotive world to the heart of the city, rather than to its suburbs, combining it with the trends of urban commodity consumption: this was clearly the goal for the modernist architecture of Los Angeles flamboyant dealerships of the 1950s; the same happened when large showrooms landed in shopping districts in the last decade - with Emmanuelle Gautrand's Citroen space on the Champs Elysées standing as the clearest icon; and it still keeps on happening and evolving with the temporary spaces run by several brands during Design or Fashion Weeks. The second aspect is the hyper-individualisation of the customer relationship, the quality level of product customization reaching higher and higher in the recent years of the smart era, increasingly dematerialising the retail location and transforming it into a space for experience, or even a club as it recently happened with Lynk&Co.
In this context, Maserati's retail concept, developed with New York-based experience design studio Eight Inc., seeks to break up with the glossy, bright and aseptic aesthetics of car dealerships - and their long stretches of lined-up vehicles - by presenting cars as sculptures in a dimly-lit art gallery, evocating a fusion between the workshop and the tailor’s atelier.
This atelier should become the place where the brand's wish takes shape, "... for clients to express their passion by creating their very own Maserati " as Davide Grasso, CEO of Maserati, says. A 3D MXE digital configurator to control on a large screen in a private screening room is housed in the store, as well as the "Fuoriserie" customisation programme infrastructure, dedicated to the development of unique fittings at the customer's request; and this is just the physical component of a broader programme where online and offline retail experiences are integrated through a system of digital touch points, including a portal through which cars can be configured and booked from home, to successively complete the purchase once at the showroom.
Milan is the world premiere of the concept, and by 2023 it is planned to be spreading around the globe, from Los Angeles to Melbourne, including multiple location such as London and Tokyo.