How a brand is reconceptualizing its showrooms as exhibition spaces
Spanish Sintered Stone manufacturer Neolith is paying close attention to how retail spaces are changing. As consumers respond more and more positively to experiential, intimate and multi-functional stores, exhibition spaces have become an exemplary model for retailers to emulate. Neolith’s Urban Boutique showrooms reflect these shifts, conceptualized as customer-centric exhibition spaces themselves. The latest location opened is in Amsterdam, following those in London, Madrid, Milan and Düsseldorf.
For the Amsterdam post, the company joined forces with long-term distribution partner Michel Oprey & Beisterveld. The showroom is designed by Neolith's in-house architect and designer Giuliana Barandiaran, who sought to create a retail environment that could showcase the wide variety of applications Neolith surfacing promises. To achieve these ends, the location – built in collaboration with stone fabricators Stone & Skills and Jan Reek Natuursteen – is divided into a multiplicity of built scenarios including the expected domestic spaces, but also with surprising additions like a specially-designed hair salon and beauty parlour.
Also critical to Barandiaran’s design mission was to communicate through the interiors how the brand has ‘continually innovated its manufacturing process to make it as sustainable as possible,’ explains Neolith director Mar Esteve Cortes. As a result, two living walls were installed to complement the natural composition of Neolith’s products.
Visitors enter the showroom-cum-exhibition space through a sleek, monumental threshold clad in two of Neolith’s latest surfaces: Mont Blanc, a quartzite-inspired stone, and the distinctively grey-toned New York–New York. Neolith Laboratory waits for them, an area where collections are displayed – here, people can get a feel for the surfaces and compare samples. Beyond the laboratory are a bathroom and contemporary kitchen, the latter finished in the marmoreal Calacatta Gold. The hair salon and beauty parlour specifically function to show how Neolith’s products can be translated to retail environments.
At the centre of the space is a waterless fountain designed by architect Héctor Ruiz. Featuring recycled glass made by Magna Glaskeramik, a lush Gingko biloba tree and tulips sculpted from Neolith materials, the sculptural fixture symbolizes the union between Spanish and Dutch culture.
‘The best way to truly understand the potential of a material is through seeing it in beautiful spaces with true-to-life designs,’ says Cortes. ‘We want to imagine how real people might specify the surfaces in any given setting.’