External Reference Architects turns trainers into treasures in Bangkok
BANGKOK – In an age in which street and art make a perfectly believable marriage, in which sneakers are no longer strangers to the world of couture and anything goes in smart retail environments, designers face a new set of questions. When asked to do the interior of a high-end sneaker boutique, for instance, a legitimate point of departure might be: where do we save our most precious objects?
The answer, of course, is a safe. How ’bout a vault? Clad in gold? Why not? The idea for 24 Kilates Bangkok is the brainchild of Barcelona-based External Reference Architects, which conceived the multi-brand’s first Asian store as a 38-sqmburnished coffer. The merchandise is uber-cool as well, and 24 Kilates is clearly a reference to the precious metal so widely adored. Filling the shop from floor to ceiling are safes and lockers that can be opened or left closed, all agleam with gold-coloured Alucobond, rivalling even the most exquisitely decorated Thai temple. An adjacent space invites shoppers to try on the treasures of their choice.
Made from containers, the shop is an extension of a local business owner’s private home. Commenting on the location, architect Carmelo Zappulla – who worked on the project with Nacho Toribio and Chu Uroz – says that after discovering the place through social media, people flock to this residential neighbourhood to find out what 24 Kilates has to offer. With his explanation in mind, I can easily envision a queue of eager consumers at the entrance to the golden annexe, hoping to lay their hands on that coveted limited edition.
Can’t they just buy online? ‘Possibly,’ says Zappulla. ‘But people come to this store for the experience.’ Why does that term sound so ‘retail 2016’ to my ears?