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.
“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.”
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
The second store from the Camper Together campaign that caught my eye is in Milan, again in collaboration with Jamie Hayon. The store features more of what is becoming further apparent as the Hayon signature style.
Handmade tables with theatrically shaped turned legs, comically themed furniture and the use of gloss materials on floors and oversized lamp shades each play their part in forming a fantastically playful theme for the store.
So you have probably read about the Silence Room snuck away within Selfridges London store. An insulated ‘inner-sanctum’ reminiscent of a padded cell to hide customers away from the noise and madness of the fast paced department store. The idea was originally conceived by the founder of Selfridges, Harry Gordon Selfridge, the purpose back then the same as it is now; enabling customers to ‘retire from the whirl of bargains and the build up of energy’.
The silence room as it appears now follows the same principles as originally intended, but the rules have to allow for a totally different ball game. Mr Selfridge did not have smart phones, ipods and other noise polluting devices to contend with back in 1909 when he originally instated the silence room. Plus the room now is not actually a completely silent haven from the rest of the store. It is next to a major walkway, by two lifts and adjacent to a cafe, noise can still quite definitely be heard from the main store.
Camper is a brand that I am constantly talking about, for my love of its continued creativity in its store design. I love the fact that brand principles are consistent in each store but that there is a new twist in each, each store has its own memorable identity. It’s not about standard roll-out.
Camper Together is a Model of Collaboration as the brand puts it. Their take on it is as follows; ”Camper Together is a model of collaboration between Camper and leading designers to create exclusive products and outstanding stores. Together responds to a new international reality that requires the capacity to integrate through design, different cultures and creative know-how into a single project together with and organization capable of communicating and distributing unique initiatives to a select global marketplace.”
The two stand out collaborations for me are with Spanish artist and designer, Jamie Hayon. His main creative studio in Valencia is where he develops his unique style focusing on blurring the lines between art, decoration and design bringing back a renaissance in finely-crafted, intricate objects within the context of contemporary design culture: creating furniture, product, interiors, sculptures and art Installations.
The first of a two part feature with Camper that I want to look at is the store he designed in Tokyo. It is inspired by classic Circus elements. It is straight out of a fictional film like Willy Wonka where intrigue is created by experimentation with scale, the use of fun items such as candy shaped door handles and curves to every wall and, table and surface.
Harmonic Convergance is an interactive sound and light installation created by American sound architect Christopher Janney at Miami Airport. The installation enhances the journey of passengers travelling from a car rental terminal to the main airport through a combination of light, colour and sound.
A ‘sonic portrait’ is created through speakers installed at intervals along the walkway that play sounds of tropical birds, thunderstorms and a variety of environmental noises relative to South Florida. Video sensors at either end of the walkway track movement and density of passengers moving through the space causing the composition of the sound environment to change as a response.