Since it first opened in 1969, the Cartier boutique in Geneva, one of the largest and most international Cartier boutiques, remains the epitome of the city’s architectural landscaping and culture.
35 Rue du Rhône bears living and current testimony to the unique history that Cartier and Geneva have been writing together ever since Pierre and Elma Cartier chose to settle here following the war. It has, over the years, forged close ties with the inhabitants and lovers of the city, a place with a reputation for both its gentle way of life and its openness to the world.
Located on the shores of Lake Geneva, in a building designed by Pierre Braillard, the boutique has acquired figurehead status within a district where other luxury brands have meanwhile found their place. Light, shade, materials and colours that Cartier holds dear – golden beige, gold and champagne bronze – are subtly balanced to create a warm and comforting atmosphere in the new decor, perfect for showcasing the Maison’s different universes.
Redesigned with a wider view of the lake and bathed in sunlight, the Cartier boutique in Geneva reimagines the presentation of jewellery and watchmaking creations by taking you on a journey punctuated with new views onto the outside and interspersed with some spectacular surprises. A journey that is directly inspired by the Genevan spirit and the long-standing tradition of expertise and excellence that has shaped this city’s history and that of Cartier in Switzerland.
The space on the first floor has been completely redesigned and now occupies the entire surface area, leaving customers free to explore all the themes, as well as encounter objects and decorative elements crafted by the greatest art masters.
The now enlarged boutique houses a residence on the second floor where the Maison’s friends from all over the world can come and feel at home. It will also be a space for holding cultural and exclusive events.
Finally, the new layout allows for private exhibitions to be held featuring certain exceptional pieces from the Cartier collection which established one of its very first boutiques in Geneva, a land of expertise and excellence.
The major renovation work that has just been completed also heralds a new destiny for the Cartier boutique on the Rue du Rhône which, in the manner of other flagship stores around the world, is reaffirming its uniqueness and becomes a true home for local and international customers who have long since come to regard it as an unmissable place to visit.
A beloved city
Geneva holds a special place in Cartier’s history and imagination. Situated on the French border, the city acts as a natural link between the native land of the Maison born in Paris in 1847 and Switzerland, a centre of expertise where Cartier has set up its watchmaking and jewellery production facilities.
The first geographical moves were nonetheless above all sentimental. Around 1947, following an eventful life dedicated to the expansion of a Maison founded by his grandfather and which he took over after the death of his brothers, Pierre Cartier chose Geneva as it offered him the opportunity to take a step back from the day-to-day activities of the company.
With his wife, Elma, he settled not far from the city in a town called Pregny-Chambésy, in a beautiful waterfront residence. Soon celebrities from all over the world began gathering there to experience the unparalleled gentle way of living characterising the shores of Lake Geneva and the delightful jaunts aboard the couple’s famous yacht. These joyous and elegant social events were also the perfect occasion to present several fabulous pieces straight out of the Maison’s workshops.
A capital of excellence and exception
Since these highly memorable years, Cartier and Geneva have become inseparable. Everything came together so that this relationship, born from an appreciation of beauty, could be perpetuated and strengthened over time. To the rest of the world, this city is renowned for having the most meticulous expertise around: watch movements bearing the famous Poinçon de Genève symbol of excellence. It was thus only natural for Cartier to find its place there, where its headquarters are now located. From this core presence, it has extended its reach in Switzerland by setting up its production facilities, the Maison des Métiers d’Art, as well as the Cartier Watchmaking Institute.
The fire beneath the ice
Geneva, or “The Protestant Rome” as it is sometimes called, is known for its sense of secrecy and dislike for ostentation which goes well with its hushed atmosphere that benefits the great jewellers. But Cartier also feels at home in this city because the Maison, known for embracing strong stylistic choices and continuously exploring the dialogue between the pure designs and exuberantly creative interpretations, recognises the audacity which Geneva is capable of achieving and the way its art plays with extremes and contrasts.
A place of expertise, tradition and heritage, Geneva provides artists and designers with the means to explore new forms and new paths. Cartier also feels a strong sense of kinship with this dimension of the Genevan spirit, where the most daring approaches rub shoulders with the most classic codes of elegance, and where creative exploration never ceases to reinvent heritage and bring it to life in the present, while also shaping the future.
A warm and poetic boutique
Cartier entrusted the transformation of the client-dedicated spaces to the Moinard-Bétaille Agency, which has been working with the Maison on the design and layout of its boutiques for more than 20 years.
The ground floor reflects the character and spirit of Geneva which appeals to visitors with its contrasting landscapes featuring lakes, snow-capped mountains and verdant plains. As soon as you enter, the shades of gold and white create a peaceful and warm atmosphere. The codes of hospitality and of comfort, so very typical of this city, are reinterpreted in a modern and elegant manner.
The openings towards the exterior have been generously enlarged so as to enable vast amounts of daylight to flood in, as well as softly twinkling nightlights. This play on colour variations evokes the shimmering surface of the lake and subtly sets the stage for the objects presented in the window displays.
The first private room, whose shapes, colours and materials are borrowed from the nautical world, has been designed like a poetic and metaphorical illustration of sailing across Lake Geneva.
On the left, a corner fireplace perfect for relaxing and daydreaming leads to a new staircase. Transparent, crystal clear and made from engraved glass recalling the surrounding peaks, this poetic creation awakens curiosity and is an invitation to discover more.
On the first floor, the layout now enables visitors to discover the entire building, offering a variety of never-before-seen viewpoints that look out onto the lake and the city: a kaleidoscope of sensations according to the season and the time of day. Foliage-printed lamps, plant shapes on the wall panels and sun motifs... Here, the close relationship Geneva shares with Nature and its elements has inspired the architects and craftsmen to intersperse this journey with art and pieces of furniture that are all original creations.
Just as when walking along the lakeside, the spaces follow on from each other seamlessly. Together, the lights, architecture, colours and materials contribute to a wonderful sense of comfort and serenity. Visitors wander from one universe to another, from one theme to another, to the beat of feelings and emotions sparked by the interplay of contrasts and surprises, such as the revelation of a new view onto the lake or the discovery of a spectacular creation.
The ubiquity of Cartier craftsmanship
Artistic crafts give unique momentum to the precious and refined story told by the new Cartier boutique in Geneva. Home to some of the greatest expertise in the field, Geneva was a natural choice of setting in which to give pride of place, within the boutique itself, to the artistic crafts and exceptional artisanship that have always been an integral part of the Cartier approach.
Sixteen Maisons were invited to experience and participate in the sensorial, emotional and cultural journey that guides the project. The bold aesthetic options taken add a touch of creative daring to the collection. The powerful contrasts with the more classic and timeless decorative elements instilling an aura of discreet elegance thus contribute to the singular sense of harmony shared by Geneva and Cartier.
A majestic mosaic panther at the entrance, mother-of-pearl screens, large decorative tapestries and panels, rope, straw marquetry, works of art made from glass, gold leaf, lacquer, metal and light... Here, the talent and expertise of the craftsmen, thoroughly integrated by the architects when transforming the space, is one of the main factors that makes this boutique so unique and gives it such distinctive character.
Each element draws inspiration from the city and from the ties that Cartier has forged with it. The subtle interplay of these objects and works instills a natural resonance with the other parts of the decor and the presentation of the Maison’s different universes, inviting visitors on a creative and exploratory journey.
The second floor of the boutique, entirely reimagined by Daniel and Michel Bismut, now houses a new space that is vast yet cosy, punctuated by exceptional and exclusive touches.
A place of encounters, discoveries and sharing, the Residence is designed for staging cultural events, hosting artists and organising inspirational events.
A variety of talks, dinners, masterclasses, workshops and thematic exhibitions will be offered year-round. Through this new space, the Cartier boutique is reaffirming its roots in the city and further assuming its role in the cultural and social life of its inhabitants, whom it will surprise and whose dreams it will nurture by bringing them into contact with the most creative minds of our time. The Residence will also be a place of hospitality for friends of the Maison and some of the most important international clients, who will find there a comforting stopover between two journeys, procuring all the delights of an intimate, family-style home from home specially designed for them in the heart of Geneva.
The powerful emotional and historical ties binding Geneva and Cartier, as well as their multiple shared qualities, endow the boutique at 35 Rue du Rhône with special status among the Maison’s finest addresses.
November 11, 2021