How an architect envisioned a modern interpretation of a 1920s department store

Beijing – The original brief for Jewellery Box Chaowai was to design a high-end boutique. However, given the scale of the project (it is spread over three storeys and comprises 3200-sq-m of jewellery boutiques and 400 linear metres of jewellery counters for individual vendors), CLOU Architects felt that a department store look and feel might be more appropriate. ‘We looked at art-deco department store interiors like the Bullocks Wilshire Perfume Hall in Los Angeles for inspiration,’ says Christian Taeubert, director of the local studio. ‘We picked two of the time’s characteristic materials – natural stone and stainless steel – which helped us create a modernized sense of opulence which would not be thought of as vintage.’

Top: Display materials were carefully chosen to show off each kind of precious stone best. On the second floor jade shines bright against a dark background. | Bottom: In order to accommodate individual vendors in Chaowai’s House of Jewellery, the team implemented linear counter layouts inspired by classic American department stores.

To create a sense of unity throughout the house, counters were fitted with anodized, corrugated steel and customized in a range of tones and natural stone selections to create a different atmosphere on each floor. Each level hosts different precious stones - the lighting and materials have been selected to show the jewellery in an optimal way. For example, diamonds on the ground floor require cold lighting, which is balanced by gold column cladding and signage boxes. On the second floor, jade jewellery, which requires warmer light, is offset by darker material finishes.

clouarchitects.com

This project was featured in the latest volume of our retail-design series, Powershop 6. Get your copy here.

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