Designed by Héctor Ruiz-Velázquez
Working Hours: 9:30H – 18:30H
Address: Piazza Santo Stefano, 10, 20122 Milan, Italy
The international Spanish Sintered Stone company Neolith® opens the doors of its new home in Milan. A privileged location in the center of the European city of design and fashion, right in the busy Santo Stefano Square near the Duomo, an exclusive setting where a brand’s products can be exhibited like nowhere else.
The project is aimed at creating an unprecedented exhibition area in the center of the Italian city with a special focus on the user experience, decontextualizing the setting of a meeting place that encourages imagination.
The premises are structured into different areas, all of which are created around the theme and concept for each of the brand’s materials as a circuit that gives visitors the opportunity to self-discover the different areas leading to an inner core as the heart of the space.
Throughout the visit, guests may enjoy the virtues of the material, the possibilities that come with its large format, the unbeatable technical characteristics, its sustainability and the ease with which it can be replaced which allows for periodic updates of each showroom to create engagement.
The welcome area, or agora, features the Zaha Stone model as this stone covers the flooring and walls as well as part of the ceiling. And this is where the visit begins with the successful aim of surprising guests with an illusionary scenography where a long pool at the entrance connects with the spirituality of the water and excavated material in an atmosphere that evokes a natural cave while a large mirror in the background reflects the image of the entire space in addition to duplicating the focal point - an olive tree that takes center stage as you enter.
The main room is dominated by a circular geometry in the middle, the heart of the premises, where traditional displays are integrated with the brand’s collections and lines in the form of a cross as the nerve center of the exhibit. This circular space is dominated by a central oculus or rotunda which invigorates the distribution of the other rooms. The formal appearance suggests and invites guests to contemplate it as the ancient pantheon. These kinds of perceptions connect the user to a reality that is expected to surprise.
This circular space leads visitors to the summum, the highest level they can reach with the solemn Calacatta stone material. The golden details dignify the room, summoning visitors to take in, reflect upon, make decisions about and enjoy the entire Neolith® brand line of materials. The idea behind the catalyzing central space is for it to be the axis around which all the other areas comprising the showroom revolve. The organic shape enhances the concept of respite from hectic daily life, channeling movement towards guests’ relaxation and entertainment as they become the center of the exhibit and, obviously, of the project. It’s an all-new approach as an alternative to modern showrooms.
Strata Argentum, another of the materials used in the project, creates the Atrium, a very special laboratory featuring the kitchen concept, which can also be accessed by a ramp between two walls. Changes in elevations are all part of the studio’s play on perception. One of the walls is a fireplace on one side yet a piece of furniture on the other as a short path leads the visitor to the top of the kitchen countertop, the highest point in the area.
The purpose of this area is sociability and gathering. It is designed on three planes comprising the ceiling, walls and flooring with a semi-hidden effect created by a fireplace built into volumes of this stone material. The focus is on the almost limitless usability of this material as it is used in all possible ways from the floors to the countertop, walls and ceiling.
The rest of the architecture offers a backdrop for daily life surrounded by furniture made with Neolith® to demonstrate the immense technical qualities of this material for water, ice, oil and other basic ingredients used in the kitchen.
These safety features which are so necessary in culinary environments are nuanced with decorative elements reflecting the functionality of the space with melodic notes of romanticism that help create a pleasant, recognizable, domestic and very special area.
The entire exhibit is a homage to the capabilities of this material and a play on the planes, perspectives and heights which not only make it feel up-close and possible but also special and astonishing.
Visiting the center of Milan is now an opportunity to observe an all-new museum-like retail culture which brings modern architecture right into the street.
Hector Ruiz Velázquez born in Puerto Rico is the founder and CEO of HRUIZ VELAZQUEZ architecture & design Team.
Arrived on the European continent in 1992 with a solid American university education with a Master Degree of Architecture from the University of Virginia, USA with studio professorships from the Universities of Harvard, Columbia, Madrid Polytechnic Architectural School and Academy of Andrea Palladio, Vicenza Italy. Joined Alberto Campo Baeza Studio for the first year until he opened his own firm.
Because of the diversity of approaches during his formation he has a fresh and innovative aesthetic concept.
Ruiz Velazquez projects have materialized mostly in Europe, where he has developed his own style converging the natural essence of his homeland with the long professional career in Spain and other parts of the world.
His architectural practice is closely related with the development of a theoretical foundation in architecture that has the ability to create emotion. In the last five years he has given over 30 lectures with national and international institutions on the subject.
In the area of housing, the studio gains its deserved reputation for its practice of "multiplying space" and constantly working on the challenge of providing the space for new spatial sensations.
He has been a visiting professor with several universities and public institutions at Colombia, Panama, Mexico, Germany, Holland, Spain Switzerland, Dubai and Japan.
HRUIZVELAZQUEZ architecture&designteam is an architectural and interior design studio that goes beyond the realm of the discipline in the implementing of innovative commercial, private and public projects.
The firm responds to unique values very closely related to the trajectory of the career of its founder. This feature pervades the studio of its own conceptualization of the space and an extensive experience with the reality of the international market that addresses each project.
The philosophy of the studio pursues an unconventional spatial reality, based on habitability criteria tested on value judgements centered on the concept of usability and communication through the discipline.
In the past 20 years it has been a pioneer in focusing the architectural envelope as a communication channel through a wide range of private and commercial work, public infrastructure, urban projects, offices, housing, corporate images and product designs.
With a global practice working as one office from two locations, Madrid and Dubai , the studio has reached an international reputation since its creation in Europe,
The completed studio projects have been published in prestigious journals and books worldwide.