As a fashion collection store characterized by unique features and aesthetic taste in Shanghai, element champions its own philosophy and principles consistently etched on the market positioning and product selection. Never following suit, it pays the special attention to presenting the ideal life of high quality and standard. This time, in addition to clothing, shoes and bags, and lifestyle products, the new store has added other func-tions carried by coffee, plants, and fashion magazines.
At the very beginning of the design, we were impressed by the great match between the selected house and the brand itself. Though not a historically protected building, it is easily reminiscent of the old time. Hence, we deliberately skipped the background research, i.e., reading the history of the building, and let this house tell the story itself, thus generating a comprehensive, purer and less disrupted interpretation. Our job was to conduct the panoramic analysis of the design from the block to the building, and from the outdoor to the indoor. It was our preset goal to fully explore the possibilities of this building and make it a “stage” with element. The spirit of the “stage” and the tone of urban life are revealed by steps in the analysis process, leading us towards a crystal-clear concept of design.
We made it very explicit, after the site analysis, that the design of this element store would focus on the house itself, and an experimental fusion of design and non-design would take place here, according to which we would do something and not do some-thing to create the element life “drama/gathering stage”. The usable area of each floor amounting to less than 70 square meters, the magical layout of an indoor staircase and an outdoor one, the structure with a strong sense of old time, and the traces of various renovations and expansions are the unique element of this stage that could be flexibly utilized. “Immersive Theatre”, “The Garden of Forking Paths”, and “parallel space-time” were the keywords recurring in our original design. Finally, we decided to follow the texture of the house and fine-tune it into a “container” in which the story could flow nat-urally in the three-story space.
The first thing we have identified is the tone of the hard space that is simple, neutral and natural, a trait not only conforming to the brand’s feature, but also vividly demonstrating the attributes of the small house itself. Hence, by applying hand-chipping, high pressure water gun and fine treatment, we finally saw the pleasant wooden texture of the con-crete beams and slabs, as well as some rough or even flawed concrete textures which were hard to be duplicated or designed manually. We deemed it something deep in the soul of this house and hence necessary to elaborate those textures. At the same time, as we were cleaning the second and third floors, their concrete colors and textures were gradually revealed, which were touching as well. Thus, we believed the simple cleaning and seal coat would be sufficient. In retrospect, the idea was to keep the most vibrant parts of the house and consider the functions needed. Through the thematic design of display props, we began to tell different “stories” on the three floors.
The first floor mainly accommodates coffee, plants, fashion magazines and lifestyle products. We extended the outdoor granite paving into the interior in a consistent pat-tern. Red bricks similar to the exterior wall of the building but with richer texture were used to make up the wall space, and the door were designed to be fully open to dissolve the boundary between the indoor and the outdoor. We also used the EPDM plastic and pebbles partly to strengthen the wide-open outdoor freshness. The main entrance which had been dull was embellished with a small area of gray space. This strategy not only softens the transition between indoor and outdoor, but also builds an iconic image of entrance. A group of extra-long coffee bars, a display cabinet that runs through the space, a landscape wall and a group of suspended magazine racks altogether outline the structure of the living hall. Materials including the black volcanic rock, mirror and brushed stainless steel, and engineered wood veneer were combined via a deconstruc-tive method to add another unique flavor to the props in this element store. This hard-spliced, non-edge-closing concept is also reflected in the design of furniture on the three floors, thus forming a spatial clue specific to element.
The second floor features high-end clothing whose brands echo with the high-quality of element. The spatial layout fully takes into account the amount of clothing to be dis-played to achieve the maximized utilization of space through accurate calculation. Alt-hough we adopted the conventional layout in which clothes were hung surrounding an island-like display stand, we treated the hanging devices as furniture, hoping to present the ordinary hanging patterns in three-dimensional layers and rich texture. The use of luminous film in the furniture further enhances the high quality of clothing. Around this modular island-like display stand, customers can try mix of clothes to select the ensem-ble they like, have a rest, etc. Together with the plants integrated into the stand, custom-ers can also appreciate the urban landscape in the small indoor space. The main check-out counter was designed in the form of a small pavilion, which also highlights the vibe of the urban living room. The materials of the furniture on the second floor are basically the same with those on the first floor-you can find the same wood veneer, black mirror and brushed stainless steel, all of which emphasized the continuous flow between the first and second floors.
The third floor focuses on urban functions and outdoor clothing, as well as high-quality stationery and groceries. To elaborate the theme of this building, that is, the wide-open outdoor freshness, we managed to keep the original windows, so that cus-tomers can be bathed in the natural light and see the urban scene. In addition to display-ing goods on this floor, we have considered the possibility of holding events and the una-voidable needs of storage. Therefore, we integrated the functions of storage and display into a combined display cabinet to avoid the sense of congestion caused by the inde-pendent storage room. The island-like stand also features the display in different height. The workbench-style display tables and stalls are equipped with pulleys, which can be easily put together for the purpose of holding events. To accommodate the theme of clothing and products on the third floor, we used the materials and colors different from those in the first and second floors. For example, the combination of light-colored multi-layer birch board, particle board, embossed aluminum sheet and galvanized iron sheet could take customers to the prime age of light industry.
The designs of the three floors are not exactly the same. They have different themes and but a clear clue flowing through them. In this two-hundred-square-meter three-story building, one can walk up and down, listen to the story unfolding with the theme, and experience the rich functions embedded in the story. The soul elements of this old house, the well-designed props, the efficient and multi-layered spatial layout, the multi-dimensional design techniques that integrate the functions of urban life, architecture, landscape, interior environment and furniture, and professional lighting design, have been taken good care and fully developed in our dynamic design process. We have final-ly achieved the original goal-presenting a life “drama/gathering stage” with great ur-ban appeal, unique attitude, interactivity and soul in the block.
Project name：element select shop Shanghai
Design：Circle Design Studio Shanghai
Design year & Completion Year：06-10.2019
Leader designer & Team：Lin Wang, Xinling Jiang, Yupeng Du
Project location：Yuyuan Rd.1381-1, Shanghai
Gross Built Area (square meters)：275 m²
Photo credits：Lu Haha
Partners：Yi Xuan Construction engineering co., LTD
Clients：Shanghai Ailimon Garment Co., Ltd
Brands/Products used in the project：CDN lighting,Sandwich Plate, Nippon Paint