Snøhetta’s YME store in Oslo mimics an ancient Norse creation myth. Aiming to do for Oslo what 10 Corso Como has done for Milan and Dover Street Market for London, the concept store is the jewel in the crown of the refurbished Paleet Mall (see Frame 102, out 1 January for our case study on the project) in a building dating from 1844.
According to founder Nicolai Schaanning Larsen, the store’s amibition is ‘to be a meeting place for fashion, art and design enthusiasts’, so as you’d expect, YME’s carefully curated selection includes everything from Wood Wood clothing to art by Jean-Paul Basquiat. The 1600-m2 store incorporates a gallery, bookshop and (due to open this spring) roof garden.
The shop takes its name from Yme, the primal being of Scandinavian legend, from whose dead body the earth was made. That was also the starting point for the design. ‘Getting a Norse myth as a brief was a new experience for us,’ says Morten Ludviksen of Snøhetta, who worked with Rikard Jaucis and Marlene Fenger Vedal on the project.
YME’s shopfront features an intricately crafted frieze representing the creation of Yme, which occurred when the elemental landscape of Niflheim (ice) met that of Muspelheim (fire). ‘That place was called Ginnungagap, and the frieze is our interpretation of its dramatic topography,’ says Ludviksen. ‘It took a good deal of effort on our part to get it right.’
The frieze was made by milling 14 sections of solid pine, the largest nearly 5 m long. Stacked one above the other, they suggest both frozen and melting forms. Inside, the story of Yme continues. The ground floor, cool and crisply detailed, again recalls Ginnungagap, but the spaces become progressively warmer, richer and darker as shoppers head upstairs. The whole process represents the mythical transformation of Yme’s body into the fertile earth.
The cool white tones and pale wood of YME’s shopfront contrast effectively with the warm, glowing Paleet Mall, but the design team also worked hard to get a separate street entrance. After all, says Ludviksen, ‘YME is a universe in itself.’
Photos Einar Aslaksen