UTRECHT – After conceiving Ace & Tate’s first flagship interior which opened in Amsterdam’s Nine Streets district last summer, cross-disciplinary Dutch agency Occult Studio returns to design the sunglasses brand’s second flagship which embodies the brand’s collaborations with artists and emphasis on creativity.
To prevent the Amsterdam location from paving the way for a repetitive interior identity, Occult's founder Kim Keogh explains 'we always take into account the location and the architecture of the space itself. Merging it with a strong concept, we want to inspire and engage the audience. Hung in the shop’s central display window, a neon light reads ‘LOOK LOOK LOOK’, beckoning passers-by of Utrecht’s historic centre to stop, retrace their steps and take a peek inside the unexpectedly contemporary and spacious store. Resembling an art gallery more so than a retail outlet, the white-blanketed interior calms and encourages customers to spend time contemplating their perfect pair.
Suspended from the ceiling in rows, cylindrical tube lights are left bare and hang adjacent to brand campaign images that could easily be mistaken for exhibition pieces. Directly underneath, a minimal grid shelving system – designed by Berlin-based studio New Tendency – elegantly presents the store’s collection of opticals. The pristine display feature is the point where customers begin trying on a selection of glasses before admiring themselves in Occult Studio's mounted circular mirrors, a reappearing motif from the Amsterdam flagship. 'With a different concept, we used the same aesthetics and core elements to create a unique retail experience that feels familiar yet very surprising,' says Keogh.
Before purchasing, customers can have a consultation within a hidden eye-test room. Concealed behind a mirrored wall on the subterranean level of the store, a private and comfortable room is coated with a muted-grey textile. Fabric-covered walls prevent outside noises from entering the space, making the bright retail space upstairs seem to be a world away.
Photos Sascha Esmail