In luxury retail, perfection is out and weird is wonderful – even in Dubai

Dubai – If you’ve been paying attention to the pops of weird in our physical store coverage, you’ll have noticed the dystopian beauty of Selfridges’ Radical Luxury experiments, the ode to Vegas kitsch by Balenciaga and the boulder-like elements inside the McQueen flagship in London. These are standout eccentric reactions to the manicured perfection of late in retail spaces, a style that might are poised to become increasingly commonplace as the pendulum now swings not just back, but in every direction.

Take, for example, the dreamlike volcanic setup at Level Shoes in Dubai. Titled Another World, the concept designed by StudioXAG presents a vision of the future underground, inspired by the visual filter of the Blade Runner timeline.

That explains the studio's interpretation of the four basic elements of life. Earth, in this case, are the stones and pebbles in the Women's Designer area. Water is a Men's Designer section full of mirrors and condensation textures. Air is Trends area full of shrink-wrapped objects and lightweight fabric. The most striking one is, of course, Fire: the Women's Contemporary department is a buffet of lava, granite, basalt and volcanic forms.

To create a sense of flow between the four elements, XAG printed, embossed and illuminated the surfaces with coded symbols that tie this other world together. Everything's weird  – but in a surprisingly cohesive and coddling way.

We'll keep an eye out for more of these glam grotesque executions, as the reaction to symmetrical control started with neotenic – that is, chubby – and geotropic furniture, and is now making its way into entire spaces. Weird is wonderful, indeed.

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