Montblanc celebrated opening a new luxury boutique at Oceans Mall’s Platinum Walk, Mhlanga, in October 2023. The brand has boutiques in the top 10 African cities, including Sandton City’s Diamond Walk in Joburg, the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town and Gateway Theatre of Shopping in Durban.
The Oceans Mall location is the first in South Africa to showcase the brand’s Neo 3.0 global retail design concept, envisioned by award-winning French designer Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance and currently rolling out in flagship boutiques worldwide. The idea was inspired by the graceful, fluid style of Montblanc’s renowned writing instrument, Meisterstück, which celebrates its centenary next year. The store layout is integrated via distinctive themes linked to essential collections and products, using novel elements like walnut and travertine, black lacquer and wood to underpin a minimalist design approach.
Franck Juhel, Montblanc President – Middle East, India, Africa, Greece and Turkey, attended the Oceans Mall opening with Alain Dos Santos, then Regional Managing Director for Montblanc Africa, and Lenka Minarcikova, Montblanc country manager – South Africa. Juhel notes pleasing growth in all segments, but more in leather: “The writing instruments and watches [categories] are both growing nicely, but leather has doubled. We wanted this in the strategy, but it’s always good when… you see it work. We are very happy about it. The signature collection, Extreme, launched eight years ago, is flying. It helps us recruit the new generation, which is very important for any brand. Now we are on Extreme 3.0.”
Pieces encapsulating the timeless elegance, durability and versatility of Montblanc’s leather collection feature in the brand’s global advertising campaign, The Library Spirit: Episodes from Around the World, which is photographed in libraries brimming with stories that resonate with the brand’s roots in writing culture and the power of words. The resulting artwork is so powerful you could frame it and hang it in your living room or mimic the look in your own home, as Juhel hints at doing. Montblanc’s artistry has injected the art of cool into stereotypically boring, dusty, and cold library spaces.
The art of cool
Meanwhile, the evolution of Neo instore is around three main elements – the eye-catching work of art that doubles as a furniture item representing the iconic Meisterstück writing instrument, the leather hall filled with open shelves integrated with light – “way more modern, way more open” – and the incorporation of more earthy material like stone instead of only wood. The Meisterstück counter was designed by Marco Tomasetta, who joined Montblanc as artistic director in March 2021 and is credited with taking the leather collection to the next level. “The leather collection is completely different today to what it was 18-24 months ago because it takes time. He’s the one behind the advertising too,” says Juhel.
While it’s difficult to know precisely what is influencing growth in sales for the luxury business lifestyle Maison, Tomasetta’s new leather designs and inspired advertising campaigns have ensured that “we talk more about Montblanc.”