Dedicated to empowering young professionals, ready-to-wear brand SKYPEOPLE has opened a new store in Taikoo Li Sanlitun, Beijing. This case is an exploratory response to the subject of incorporating brand identities in retail spaces. The design embodies such notable features of the brand’s products as simplicity, practicality, efficiency, and decency as well as their underlying design concepts while acknowledging the mutual influence of urban, architectural, and fashion textures.
Based on an in-depth study of the brand, we reconsidered the roles played by outfits in different urban settings and the composition of clothes. Starting with the store’s layout, furnishing, soft decoration, colouring strategy, and lighting design, we let the space itself speak for the brand’s pursuit of urban performance and humanistic temperament. Just as good fashion design makes wearing effortless and timeless, we try to create an elegant commercial space that gives lasting aesthetic pleasure.
From protection and adornment to maintenance of etiquette, representation of status, and expression of individuality, the functions of clothes have expanded from predominantly practical into cultural, aesthetic, and various other dimensions. The evolution of fashion can therefore reflect a city’s core spirit and path of development. The diversification of urban scenes, demands, and lifestyles or any major changes happening in the city all affect people’s perceptions of and anticipations toward fashion. The concept of city has thus become the first foothold of our design.
We pictured mixing the different “slices” of a city observed by different crowds from their perspectives in one room. More specifically, we installed irregularly shaped, casually staggered bodies of mirrors throughout the store. A more labyrinthine spatial relationship is resulted from the collective effect of the reflection of and the obstruction of view by these structures, thereby embedding more dynamic perspectives into the space. Ultimately, we want to achieve a visual effect of a city being cut into pieces and reconfigured back together.
The “mirror fragments” distributed at different heights turn people’s sights in unpredictable ways, providing them with more perspectives of observing the space. The space itself is also given different expressions that overlay while clashing with each other. Passing through them is like walking in an intricate city web.
Such design actions centred on “perspective” have also come from SKYPEOPLE’s take on workplace culture. New observation perspectives give us new impressions and perceptions of the city. Likewise, in the workplace, switching perspectives often helps us find inspirations and better solutions.
The fitting rooms are situated inside the inverted trapezoid hanging at the centre of the space. Its top adheres to the ceiling, while the bottom is 20 cm elevated from the floor. Contrary to the traditional layout of a clothes shop, we demarginalized the fitting rooms to give it both visual and thematic weights.
We modelled the structure’s exterior after the typical filling-stitching contour of the surface of down jackets. By virtue of the plasticity of the material, we made its texture look soft and cushiony, which is simultaneously durable and easy to clean in application, echoing the brand’s mindfulness of both fabric texture and practicality.
Put in the same context as the mirror fragments are, this structure may also be seen as an abstraction of skyscrapers. The aloof image of these lofty buildings shooting from the ground is softened into an airy, approachable existence “falling from the sky.” The structure reminds us of a foreign object landing in a concrete jungle. As the visual centre of gravity, it has a calm, steady aura, which is in line with the products’ “low noise” feature. On a symbolic level, it can be seen as a variation of any private environment in the city where people feel safe putting down their emotions.
Urban spaces are the products of the interlacing of places and events. Take parks as an example, this type of places are vitalized by the occurrence of activities and the convergence of people, all of which eventually become the residents' cherished memories. The parks then play a role in improving ecology, beautifying landscape, and enhancing the residents’ quality of life, thereby setting a virtuous cycle in motion to promote positive changes in the city.
With this realization, we incorporated "winter playground" as part of the store’s identity by constructing imageries related to "sunshine," "ice and snow," and "parks." The highly restrained design approach still leaves room for recreational functions and a playful subtone.
“Design is a process of constantly simplifying.” This concept inspired us to adopt relatively abstract design techniques as we worked toward the imagery of winter playground. Take the front installation as an example, a matrix of 90 columns made of solid foam and stainless steel simulates a forest covered in snow. The image of snow-covered trees is rendered into a fusion of geometric and metallic elements. Compared to using real plants, this method of expression interferes less with the general vibe of the store and is only given definite forms in viewers’ imaginations, which vary from person to person. The couches are shaped like park benches while using more skin-friendly fabrics.
The cloister-style browsing path wraps around the fitting rooms, making customers feel like touring a garden. Different forms of metallic display props are set in place in order to maximize space utility while maintaining a casual, decent appearance. They are either embedded in the walls or suspended by ropes from the ceiling. There is no traditional storage room or cash register in the store; instead, we adopted the more transparent warehouse-style display method. The inventory items are stored in dust bags and displayed on racks at the back of the store. This method has the advantages of relieving storage pressure, saving space, and expediating the shopping process, making it more smooth, self-directed, and engaging for the customers.
To avoid flares, which will interrupt the flatness and roughness of the façade, we used a large number of soft film light boxes and pieced them together according to the geometric characteristics of the site. Meanwhile, some light tubes are interspersed to balance the overall lighting intensity. This strategy makes the entire site look like a snowfield bleached by sunlight, appearing bright, clear, and approaching invisible.
In the fitting rooms, gradient blue and purple light sets off the warm-keeping feature of down. The nebulized pigments diffuse like a colourful fog from the floating corridor into an expanse of bright whiteness. While they gradually wake up the space, a futuristic vibe associated with outer space or polar regions is sparked off.
In fact, we purposely displayed the products and applied brand colours in ways such that they would surface from people’s views in a relatively subtle, peripheral fashion that is memorable without undermining the visual integrity of the space. The contrast of colours and the absence of shadow make objects appear as if floating in zero gravity.
People are used to observing their surroundings from their own vantage points based on their own systems of measurement. Our perceptions of the physical world are therefore inevitably fragmented, distorted, and variegated. In response to this grand subject, “Collage City” is only a preliminary attempt – a rough draft, so to speak. “Snapshots of the city captured through mixed perspectives floating above the snowfield, collaged into a strange new world” – through this, we hope to stimulate people’s interest in exploring different perspectives and provide alternative ways of observing, inhabiting, and imagining cities.
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