Lionel Sonkes Optical Shop, Brussels, Belgium.


I’ve been talking for some time about wanting to design a bar or a restaurant, a space with minimal or no product in it. I’ve seen so many simple yet beautifully designed leisure and hospitality spaces recently, that when shot without product in them look incredible. We are lucky that we work with clients that deliver wonderful visual merchandising solutions with their product in store. But the itch is still there. I’d settle for an eyewear store with low volume and small sized product, and this example is simply epic.

The Lionel Sonkes optical store in Brussels is a space befitting of the stylish and expensive product that is displayed in it. It’s a store that truly celebrates the design of a space as much as the experience of sitting and trying on the luxury items within it.


The space exudes elegance, class, and sophistication without ever needing to shout about it. The materials palette is the perfect balance between comfort and warmth and minimalist beauty. Not least due to the fact there are table tops, wall displays and seating dividers all made from, or clad in carrara marble. Coupled with beautifully sleek timber joinery for storage, with sharp detailing to draw pulls and handles, through to the gorgeous lighting over back to back seating between service tables that resemble a cafe or saloon bar, a very exclusive one at that. Continue Reading

Le Coiffeur – Marseille by Margaux Keller


I’ve been meaning to write about this amazing space in Marseille for some time. Looking like a sweet shop, or something out of a Tim Burton movie more than a hair salon, this delightfully playful interior is preceded by one hell of a shop front. Classic, but industrial in its appearance, matte black lacquered steel frames large windows that look in to the alluring space inside.

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Capsule Emporium, Melbourne, by Prospace Design Studios


Time to feature a project that we have recently completed at Prospace Design Studios. Capsule approached us to create a concept store located in Melbourne’s newly opened Emporium shopping centre. Having previously worked with Capsule to design and deliver their store in the world’s first ‘Living Mall’ at Central park in Sydney, we took the opportunity to build on an existing design language that is all about sharp style and individuality.

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Ray-Ban Concept Store Covent Garden

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Ray-Ban’s product will get most (certainly me) through the door and in to one of their stores no matter the location or store design, but just to make it easy they’ve pitched up on the corner of Long Acre opposite the exit gates at Covent Garden tube station. Walk 10 paces – buy Ray-Bans. Easy.

Not to mention the convenient location, the new store concept is awesome. I came across this sunnies unit in a Glue store in Sydney a couple of weeks back and loved it for its modular potential; the option for four sided product display and the ability to brand and add graphics on different planes within the unit along with sharp details like branded connecting brackets made the unit a real winner for me….and some exciting inspiration.

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Low and behold Ray-Ban, who have worked with Puresang out of Antwerp and Barcelona, have created a store concept that the sunnies unit has no doubt evolved from to become a wholesale feature. For it is strongly based around this modular idea and the use of cubes in the form of showcases that are hung to create partition walls and column wraps in store.

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Under Armour China Experience

I’ve not paid much attention to Under Armour’s retail presence until now. The goal of their China Experience was simple, to create a first of its kind retail theatre experience, placing story telling at the forefront. A 270 degree screen displays an impressively composed, intense video of athletes training for different sports, the main message – the brands aim to make athletes better through passion and innovation.

At the end of the video visitors are led through to another room to shop a limited range of the brands apparel and footwear. What’s brilliant about this whole experience is the importance the brand places on story telling before displaying product, something I strongly believe in, whatever the scale of the retail project.

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Thomas Heatherwick’s Garden Bridge over the Thames


“You could argue this is not essential, but if life is only about the essentials, you end up with those wretched places in the world that I don’t want to visit.”

Thomas Heatherwick

I love Thomas Heatherwick and I’m a big fan of the High Line in NYC, an elevated park running the length of a former freight train line through the West Side of Manhatten. And this concept echoes that of the High Line, in as much as its its a long elevated park, with trees and benches.

Looking at the images of the Garden Bridge one of the first things that came to my mind was “why hasn’t anyone thought of this sooner? Why has it taken the brilliance of Heatherwick to give us something so simple and so blatantly iconic in the making?” but the answer to my question, quite randomly so, is someone did think of it before Heatherwick; Joanna Lumley of Ab Fab fame. Joanna came up with a concept to create a new park in Central London which in turn inspired Heatherwick, along with a brief from Transport for London to improve pedestrian links across the river.

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Paul Smith store extension Albemarle Street, London


When I think of Paul Smith stores a clear image springs to mind. Warm timbers, beautifully upholstered furniture, charming and cosy ‘room setting’ retail spaces and of course the famous coloured stripe pattern. Either I haven’t been in a Paul Smith store for some time or they’ve just recently, and quite boldly, moved on with their design concept.

The new store extension on Albemarle Street in London is proof of this. The obvious shift is in the striking shop front facade. The original ground floor Georgian brick design is clad out in iron panels that have an intricate over lapping circle pattern cast in to them. The pattern itself creates a beautiful relief detail and shadowing on the facade and was inspired by a sketch from Paul Smith himself. Continue Reading

Generator Hostel Barcelona by The Design Agency


It’s been about 4 months since I last posted, apologies to my regular readers and followers. After travelling through Asia for a couple of months I have now settled in Sydney and have just about got to used to the fact that when someone says “how are you” to me I do not need to launch in to a lengthily explanation of how I’m feeling or describe what site seeing I did at the weekend. It’s just their way of saying hello and requires no response, other than hello back….Got it.

Whilst travelling through Asia we met several people that stayed at hostels to get maximum bang for their buck, and the recurring feedback was about cleanliness, security and overall welcome in terms of design and appearance. It is true that with hostels we expect a no frills experience, a place to rest our head at night until we get up and explore the city we are in again the next day. That is why the Generator Hostel in Barcelona caught my eye. It looks anything but a hostel, ok it’s a hostel within a hotel, but no effort is spared in creating a visually exciting experience that instantly welcomes its guests, setting it apart from the usual backpacker hostels.

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Feature: Shopping Malls in Bangkok – Part 2


The Siam Center is a new explosive mall opposite Paragon. It is alive with interactivity, colour, movement, bold dark design and beautiful details all around.

The centre itself is actually Thailand’s first ever, opening in only 1976. It has recently remodelled and repositioned itself to appeal more to the younger generation. But on our visit there was a mix of age ranges and nationalities swarming the interesting malls and atriums.

There is activity everywhere, it felt almost like we were at an exhibition or Expo, as if something special was going on. But this was just a standard day in a centre that strives to add customer interactivity with different light and sound installations and digital interventions.

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Feature: Shopping Malls in Bangkok – Part 1


During our small tour of Asia we’ve recently been able to spend a few days back in Bangkok, giving me the chance to drag my other half around some of the many shopping centres I was recommended to visit.

We visited 5 in total, The Silom Complex, Paragon, Terminal 21, Central World and lastly Siam Center, which I have reserved for a separate post as it really blew me away.

The previous four centres all demonstrated different design and positioning strategies, but each of them followed the usual principles for shopping centre design that we would practice in the UK. They each had a fair share of theming, brand identity, contrast, moments of interest and high levels of commercialisation.

They are all designed not only for their local demographics but for a large footfall of global tourists. The Siam Center infact seemed to be the one centre that wasn’t designed primarily for tourists.


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