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Considering the rapid turnover of the merchandise, Gabellini injected a degree of design flexibility, so, for example, there are sliding wall panels in 5-foot modules, that change the amount of daylight and views from the store. The shoe department on the floor was conceived of as an "open courtyard to invite mingling," not unlike a hotel lobby, with the collections around the perimeter, Gabellini said. The floor also will host special events, such as trunk shows.
The most compelling component, enhancing the fifth floor's atmosphere, is the unusual undulating ceiling, with special floating curved cast plaster ceiling panels, simulating a sunscreen or a courtyard's brise soleils. There's a sensation of a floor drenched in natural lighting and a ceiling open to the sky.
Emanating from the floor out to the street is a ribbon of lavender light from a computerized lighting system. Gabellini called this a "signing device that connects the store with the outside and creates a sense of intrigue."
There's also some mystery about Bergdorf's upcoming restaurant, BG, and whether it will be the hot spot that Fred's, the restaurant in Barneys New York, has become. Bergdorf's officials don't see the restaurant as a profit center, but Gold did say it's expected to make money.
"For BG, I envisioned a setting that epitomizes grace and style, yet feels so fresh and welcoming that one would want to dine or meet for a drink there — several times a week," said Kelly Wearstler, the interior designer for the restaurant. The restaurant, she said, will be parchment-colored and have faux-bois-finished paneling, plank hardwood floors with a foxtail stain, scenic wallpaper with a vintage feel, eight different types of dining chairs and custom-designed chargers based on the store logo.
"The inspiration and vehicle for realizing that vision was already in the space's DNA, so to speak," she said. "The Vanderbilt mansion's residential heritage and frontage on the park called to mind drawing rooms or salons where friends and family might gather, and inspired the restaurant's polished domestic feel. And, of course, Bergdorf's legacy as a showplace for timeless fashion influenced my approach to the overall design and its finer details.