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The vision: Provocative projects in which the conventions of beauty and style take a backseat to ideas and functions
Claim to fame: Prada Epicenter, New York
The merging of a luxe brand with cutting-edge architecture is a seductive equation, as evidenced by the explosion of design-centric stores of late. But the one that kick-started the trend in New York City of stores as design destinations was Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas' store for Prada. Prada's New York Epicenter opened in 2001 in a landmark 19th-century, cast iron building. Koolhaas juxtaposed high-tech gadgetry with organic components; a giant wooden "wave" (which serves as an informal accessory display space) takes center stage, along with mannequins suspended from the ceiling in wire cages. Interactive dressing rooms and the wireless technology staff use to retrieve merchandise further add to the futuristic experience.
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