‘Good shoes take you good places,’ goes the saying. Flip Ziedses Des Plantes turns this expression on its head, having designed an exhibition for footwear brand Filling Pieces at Paris Fashion Week that is now overtaking the Amsterdam-based label’s retail presence around the world.

The design studio created the ‘sneaker landscapes’ exhibition at the heart of the Marais, Paris’s art and fashion hub – evoking the essence of the brand’s identity through two ‘landscapes’, the urban and the natural. ‘The design of the white modular wall, concrete elements, and plants has become a visual beacon for Filling Pieces,’ FZDP says modestly. Frame reached out to him for more insight on the design of the distinctive exhibition and the journey from runway (so to speak) to retail.

How did you consider the context (of the site, of Paris Fashion Week, of the brand) in the design?
FZDP: It was Filling Pieces’ first big collection exhibition in Paris, so the brand was looking for an impressive location. The architectural qualities of the gallery space situated in Le Marais, Paris, really inspired us while making the exhibition design.

The glass roof of the exhibition space inspired us to create a greenhouse for the modular structure, in which tropical plants were combined with concrete elements. This reflected a tropical urban landscape while also referring to the Surinamese roots of the Filling Pieces founder.

The design also relates to the shoes themselves – which after all can bridge urban and natural environments. The sandy nude tones and sober hues of the shoes complement the set, for example, and vice versa. Do you think it’s important to treat retail products like art exhibits?
Not necessarily art exhibitions; we see countless alternatives. However, it is certainly interesting to present high-end retail products in an unconventional setting because it allows you to convey a brand story in a different kind of way; through the space and context of, let’s say, an art gallery. It offers possibilities to express brand stories in a totally different way than through an online campaign.

Especially in the case of the Paris Fashion Week exhibition, which was primarily hosted for fashion professionals like retail buyers. People should be provided with not only a clear overview of the sneaker collection, but should also be 'emotionally charged' with the DNA and the story behind the brand and its products.

How does this extend to other contexts?
Designing installations in different contexts allows us to reflect the values of the brand in surprising ways, to inspire and move people on a different level. An increasing number of brands are looking for new ways to express their story and identity. I can only encourage this movement, because I believe it offers fresh perspectives for brands to present themselves, be it in a shopping centre or store front.

How have the Filling Pieces sneaker landscapes lived on, extending to other contexts or locations, since Paris?
The exhibition proved so successful, and the visual storytelling so well understood by the retail buyers and fashion bloggers, that Filling Pieces decided to commission us to translate the exhibition design into brand shops in department stores all over the world.

The sneaker landscapes’ communication of the brand story and identity is now being told on a global scale. The design of the white modular wall, concrete elements and plants became a visual beacon for Filling Pieces customers. You can now see the exhibition design in the Netherlands’ de Bijenkorf, Berlin’s KaDeWe, and I.T Hong Kong… Mission accomplished!