the d/r building was not a glass box. Viewed horizontally, the floors, visible slabs of sandblasted
concrete, divide the glass walls. Vertically, the facade moves in and out like facets of a cut diamond.
D/R alumni recently joined to re-create the store’s famous displays (facing page) to celebrate the
building’s 40th annivesary. A hand-colored giclée print stands in for the original D/R neon sign.
Iittala vase,” says Jane. “He wanted people to put
art into their everyday life.” And thereby hangs
Thompson’s retail concept, one that continues
to this day with companies such as Pottery Barn,
William-Sonoma, and any other company that
promotes a certain “lifestyle.”
In addition to the paradigm-shifting wares,
Thompson staffed his shop with chic young
women. (One Cambridge matron, Jane recalls,
saw “all these girls in cotton dresses, with stylish aprons down to the floor, and asked, ‘Is this
a house for fallen women?’ ”) In 1969, when
Radcliffe College decided to build the Gutman
Library where the original D/R store stood,
Thompson bought the old Brattle Inn, tore it
down, and, as architect, retailer, and client
combined into one, brought forth the glass-and-concrete showcase that still glows today.
Its glass walls were the key to Thompson’s
idea of making the marketplace a spectacle. “We
made a happening out of the very act of people
buying things,” says Peter Wheeler, president of
women’s fashion label Sara Campbell Ltd. and
former head of design for D/R.
In essence, the new building was a stack
of vitrines, clear boxes displaying bright fabrics,
2008 Best of Boston®: Best Contractor 2008, 2009 Best of Boston® Home: Best Builder
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