LONDON – It’s one of retail design’s perennial questions: how do you get your client’s concession to sing out when it’s surrounded by a jungle of other brands in a major department store? Arguably, it’s a conundrum that’s even more difficult to solve when the store in question is Harrods of London, and the design of the nearest escalator – taking shoppers down to Luxury Accessories on the lower ground floor – was inspired by ancient Egypt. Further heightening the surreal nature of the environment, at the base of the moving stairs is a large memorial to the late Dodi Fayed (son of the store’s former owner, Mohamed Al-Fayed) and Princess Diana, who died together in a car crash in 1997.
Faced with this context, Adjaye Associates created a coolly contemporary space for Milanese luxury bag company Valextra, providing a stark contrast to much of what is going on around it. The three walls of the interior are made from tactile glass-reinforced, crinkle-cut concrete with a permanent, monolithic quality, despite being only 2.5 cm thick. The bags, meanwhile, are presented in a series of internally lit alcoves that, according to the architect, frame the products as if they were ‘precious artefacts’. The centre of the space is dominated by a rectangular unit made of the same material; its terraced design is ideal for displaying wallets and other accessories. The result? Simple, effective and rather classy.
Photos Ed Reeve