Inside The World’s First Floating Shopping Mall

Inside The World’s First Floating Shopping Mall

shoppers will tell you that there’s little
difference between a mall in London, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles or Singapore. Fine, they
might be bigger, shinier or stock more local designers, but
ultimately a mall’s a mall, right? Not anymore. Meet T Fondaco dei Tedeschi, Venice’s brand-new luxury shopping and concept store
that is turning the whole retail experience on its head. Driven by
the need to resurrect Venice’s history as the cultivators of luxury
goods, where merchants from all over the world gathered to trade
spices, perfumes, gemstones and silks, this former post office,
merchants hub and Napoleonic custom house has had a rejuvenating
uplift – and is definitely not just a mall.

Occupying one of Venice’s most prominent palatial buildings, T
Fondaco lies adjacent to the Rialto Bridge, with direct entry via
the Grand Canal. As you dip beneath the archways you’re met with
trademark terrazo floors and characteristic Italian flair, brought
up to date thanks to innovative restorations from Dutch architect
Rem Koolhaas of OMA. Forget sifting through selfie sticks, novelty
hats and knock-off Venetian masks, enter the palazzo’s ground floor
for intricate handcrafted local artisan products, while well-heeled
Venetians dip in and out of beauty and accessories departments
featuring home-grown brands such as Fendi, Max Mara and Armani,
alongside familiar luxury names like Chanel and Saint Laurent.

Better still, collecting souvenirs to immortalise your trip
takes an opulent turn here, with brands such as Gianvito Rossi,
Salvatore Ferragamo and Valentino creating bespoke pieces
especially for the store. Capturing the essence of Italy was
integral to the whole idea behind the experience, which the luxury
retail DFS Group founders were keen to “localise”. If bespoke
clothing is a bit out of your budget, capture the zest of Italy in a bottle of La Bottega di Rialto olive
oils, acacia honey or bianchetto truffle sauce.

If all the perusing has left you in need of a little pick-me-up,
head to the restaurant run by Massimiliano Alajmo (the youngest
chef in the world to receive three Michelin stars) and his brother
Raf Alajmo. Dramatically occupying the entire central space of this
historic building to encourage conviviality, Amo (meaning “I love)
was designed by Philip Starck and serves everything from simple
espressos to pretty plates of modern Italian cuisine. With a solid
cocktail list to boot, it will no doubt become a destination for
aperitivo too.

In a bill to not only become a shopping hotspot but a cultural
hub as well, T Fondaco also houses an event pavilion. The
light-filled atrium is set to host a series of specially
commissioned exhibitions, shows, screenings and parties. But our
favourite bit? The rooftop terrace offers unrivalled views of
Venice with its winding canals framed by the shimmering peaks of
the Italian Alps – and you won’t have to shove your way through
hordes of tourists to get that mandatory Insta snap.

Discover More
City Guide: Venice, Italy