Stephan Jaklitsch, architect

In the world of retail, there is a tendency towards sameness, a familiarity designed to lull shoppers into a complacent state in which they might begin to feel it’s okay to spend a lot of money. A Zara, anywhere in the world, is immediately identifiable by its gold-toned lighting and rows of shoes lined up haphazardly underneath the clothes; a Marni boutique leaves its mark with swooping stainless-steel rails and elliptical cutouts in the ceilings. As a brand, Marc Jacobs has never been about uniformity, though — this is a fashion designer, after all, who’s gone from the most infamous collection of grunge in history to the luxurious heights of Louis Vuitton — so why should his stores? “There are certain iconic elements that are repeated,” admits Stephan Jaklitsch, the New York–based architect who’s been responsible for Jacobs’s bricks-and-mortar for more than 10 years, “but in general, each store relates to its own specific building type, to the city’s specific urban condition, and to the architecture of the individual space. Although they’re identifiably connected, every one of them has a particular feel.”

All of which makes sense considering the odd spots Jaklitsch has had to design around since joining forces with the brand in 1999, just a year after he struck out on his own after having worked for firms like Michael Graves post–architecture school. He was hired partly on the strength of his residential renovation for Jacobs’s business partner Robert Duffy, and the San Francisco Marc by Marc Jacobs flagship was the first he designed for the pair. In the beginning, Jaklitsch says, he was taking cues from the brand’s first store, located in an old garage on New York’s Mercer Street. “It wasn’t really designed,” he says. “It was bare walls, painted white, a floor that was painted black, and industrial rolling racks. It was extremely simple, down to earth, and chic as a result of all that. The San Francisco store took the level of luxury up a bit.” Since then, he’s worked with an abandoned warehouse in Savannah, Georgia, a 17th-century trio of spaces in Milan, and seven bays of the Palais de Royale in Paris, where he ended up consulting with the Ministry of Culture in order to create a new façade. “The problem was how to respect the original architecture without being kitsch copy of it,” Jaklitsch says.

Like most architects, problems are something Jaklitsch thrives on; they’re part of what keeps him creatively inspired when he is, at the end of the day, working with the same brand year in and year out. (Other notable projects include a series of modernist residences in Manhattan and beyond, as well as new shops for the Moscot brand of eyeglasses.) His other primary sources of inspiration are travel, which he does a great deal of for the Marc Jacobs stores, and the eight things that follow.