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AuntieLucy: a house of quality

A home is not merely a living space. The concept of a home is a place that can be transformed and developed through individual experiences and actions. Such a unique conception of beauty can be expressed and defined through good design.

This can be expressed and defined by taking into account occupant comfort, aesthetics, technological innovation and quality assurance. AuntieLucy, the new concept shop at the Bay Street complex, offers this and much more.

The shop, the first of its kind in Malta, is the result of an initiative by the VF Group, which was offered a 1,000-square metre space in Bay Street. Speaking to The Sunday Times, VF Group chairman Vince Farrugia and VF marketing manager Kevin Vassallo said they wanted to offer Malta something totally new. The result, which took two years of hard work and is only 50 per cent ready, was AuntieLucy, a concept shop aimed at the higher end of the market.

Mr Vassallo said their love of design and commitment to good quality were essential driving forces in this project. The VF Group is also known for the importance it attaches to customer relations, this shop will be no exception. Mr Vassallo stressed the importance of building a strong customer relationship, offering not only exclusive design but also friendship and commitment.

Messrs Vassallo and Farrugia stressed that this was not simply a furniture shop. The shop is selling quality, imagination and the latest in design. It also aims to educate people in good design.

To this end, the management are planning on launching a library with the latest books and information on design and design technology. The library will be open to students of architecture and design and to anyone with an interest in the area. Readers can buy the material on offer or simply settle down comfortably and read.

Plans are also under way to develop a theatre that is found within the complex. The space will be used in the future to promote contemporary art, design, drama and dance. This stresses the group's commitment to education and making such knowledge accessible.

The two facets of this shop are intriguing. On the one hand, goods on sale are targetted at three to five per cent of the general market. Mr Farrugia added that the shop's products are ideal for owners of luxury homes and apartments, especially for people who want functional but trendy furniture. On the other hand, good design education is being offered to anyone interested.

Customers will also benefit from the expert opinion of in-house interior designers and architects. Messrs Farrugia and Vassallo feel that these will offer the client the best service and advice.

AuntieLucy is offering a range of selected top brands, inspired by the fashion market. Brands were chosen not only for their creativity, but also for their quality and technology. Such things are not created by chance, they evolve over time. The shop is offering customers brands that have developed the best products, absolute individuality of choice and guaranteed quality.

The Italian designing firm Minotti offers a wide range of sofas and sitting rooms which are not merely the result of imagination and innovation, but also of quality and research. The firm, under the direction of Architect Rodolfo Dordoni, has close connections with top fashion house Dolce & Gabbana. Dordoni himself has close connections with Malta, he owns a house here and is very excited at being able to offer his artistic creations to the island.

Original kitchen designs are available from the Italian brand Arcilinea. These kitchens are inspired by industrial concepts, but still manage to offer a strong touch of elegance and beauty. The firm is also directed by an architect - Antonio Citterio. Celebrity customers of this firm include Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio and celebrated tenor Luciano Pavarotti.

The shop, in itself a work of art designed by AP, also offers goods from select brands, chosen according to their importance in design industry and their innovativeness. The shop is offering a wide selection of Zani and Zani products, a prestigious Italian brand which includes pots, pans and cutlery.

The VF Group also have a good connection with Denmark and are offering wares from two top Danish brands - Eva & Solo and Rosendahl. These brands have a selection of kitchen appliances, glasses and other kitchen ware. A range of innovative table sets are offered by German brand Kahla. These sets will bring a taste of cutting-edge design to any home.

A wide range of ceramic objects are also available. German brand ASA have a range of innovative designs that can grace any area of the home. The brand is fairly commercial; however, wares are of a very high quality and very innovative. For a range of upmarket, handmade, original wares, the customer can opt for Italian designer Rina Minardi's range of wares.

Mr Farrugia said that the Bay Street complex offers the ideal location for such a concept shop. He noted that the experience of retailing is changing, and Bay Street offers a well designed, ideal location for this concept. Mr Farrugia also said that the firm have a good relationship with Bay Street directors, and both sides believe that the venue will continue to evolve. He added that VF Group are happy to be part of this expansion.

Eventually, AuntieLucy will also have a contracts section for hotels, restaurants and other establishments wishing to add that exclusive touch to their premises. The concept shop is ever evolving.

Various plans are also in the making, and customers should expect more surprises as time goes by. Visit AuntieLucy at Bay Street complex, Level 4, St Julian's.

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