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    Chongqing’s hidden factories inform interiors of Harmay beauty store

    Conveyor belts and cog-like display stands appear within this beauty store in Chongqing, China, designed by AIM Architecture, which takes cues from the city’s underground network of factories.

    Harmay is located at the heart of Chongqing inside a former shopping mall, with its entrance set below street level.
    A skylight punctures the ceiling of Harmay’s Chongqing store”The store is located underneath a large plaza with a multitude of steps going down into it,” explained Shanghai practice AIM Architecture.
    “So, to work with this unique spatial setting, we explored typologies of underground structures within the local context.”
    Products are displayed on conveyor belts, creating a factory-like settingA particular source of inspiration was the hundreds of bomb shelters that can be found beneath Chongqing, which were used to hide from Japanese air raids during world war two but have now been widely converted into shops, eateries and small-scale factories

    To imitate the enclosed feeling of these shelters, the practice used gypsum panels to form a dropped ceiling within the store, simultaneously concealing its exposed service ducts.
    These boards were also used to clad the store’s facade and have all been rendered in a brick-red hue on the interior.
    Some display stands were made to look like generatorsStainless steel was used to create a series of industrial-style display fixtures, nodding to the factories that now inhabit some of the shelters.
    This includes a long conveyor belt that snakes throughout the store’s main room with small grey crates placed at intervals along its surface, each containing different beauty products.
    Other stands look similar to machine cogsIn the store’s smaller peripheral rooms, products are showcased on gridded steel shelves and stands that were designed to look like generators or oversized machinery cogs.
    Simple strip lights were hung from the ceiling and a skylight was installed so that shoppers can look upwards to the outdoors, further enhancing the feeling of being underground.
    Gridded steel shelves were also been added to the storeAIM Architecture has designed a number of locations for beauty retailer Harmay, including an apothecary-style store in Hong Kong, and another in Hangzhou that resembles a 1970s office.
    This branch in Chongqing is shortlisted in the large retail interior category of the 2023 Dezeen Awards.
    Here, it is competing against other projects such as the Super Seed shop by FOG Architecture, which features more than 100 moving display boxes, and Kooo Architects’ Freitag store, which occupies an old textile factory.
    The photography is by Wen Studio. 

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    Linda Bergroth designs “user-centric” Cover Story paint shop in Amsterdam

    Interior designer Linda Bergroth has added colourful beams to the Amsterdam concept store for plastic-free paint brand Cover Story, which was designed to streamline the redecorating process for shoppers.

    The “paint studio” is the second iteration of Cover Story outlets designed by Bergroth, who also created the interiors for the Finnish brand’s flagship Helsinki store.
    The Cover Story shop in Amsterdam features oversized colourful beamsShortlisted in the small retail interiors category of this year’s Dezeen Awards, the paint shop features oversized colourful beams. These were informed by cranes in the port city, as well as the decorative vignettes that top many of Amsterdam buildings’ facades, according to the brand.
    “The design playfully explores the use of colour, incorporating three-dimensionality through roof bars and considering how light interacts with colour to influence perception,” said Cover Story.
    Linda Bergroth designed the interiorFollowing a similar format to the Helsinki outlet, the Amsterdam shop also serves as a showroom, office and events space, despite its small size.

    A large colour chart made from hand-painted swatches in 47 different shades, designed to make choosing colours easier for customers, was attached to the wall.
    Colourfully painted blocks and plinths were incorporated to show how light responds to each Cover Story shadeChunky painted plinths were positioned in the shop window, as well as smaller colourful blocks on a central silvery table, to emphasise the different ways in which light and shadow respond to various paint options.
    Cover Story explained that Bergroth chose to highlight the old building’s “unique characteristics”, rather than introduce new furniture, including its sloping walls and the metal supports that adorn its structural pillars.

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    “Despite the significant influence that wall colour holds in shaping the atmosphere of a room and influencing interior design, paint is often perceived merely as a renovation accessory,” said the brand.
    “Cover Story’s mission is to position paint as a design product, which is why the Amsterdam paint studio is strategically located on a bustling shopping street alongside other concept stores where interior design products are sold,” it added.
    “Every aspect is thoughtfully crafted to promote a sustainable and user-centric experience.”
    The beams were informed by Amsterdam’s architectureFounded in 2020 by Anssi Jokinen and Tommi Saarnio, the brand produces 100 per cent plastic-free paint, which is also odourless.
    Finnish designer Bergroth has completed a number of colour-infused projects including Durat’s Helsinki showroom and a blue pop-up restaurant in New York built from recycled food packaging.
    The photography is by Paavo Lehtonen. 

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    Colour-drenched coffee shop by Uchronia references “sunsets in the Tunisian desert”

    Gradated lava stone flooring and suspended planet-like orbs feature at the Cafe Nuances coffee shop in Paris, which was created by Dezeen Awards-nominated studio Uchronia.

    Located on the city’s Rue de la Tremoille, the coffee shop is the third Uchronia-designed branch for Parisian coffee roaster Cafe Nuances.
    Cafe Nuances’ latest branch has a bright white facadeThe one-room shop is fronted by a bright white facade in stark contrast to its vivid-hued interior.
    Studio founder Julien Sebban was informed by the landscapes he experienced on a recent trip to Tunisia when creating the cafe’s walls and lava stone flooring, which are decorated in ombre swathes of red, orange and blue.
    The colorful interior was informed by sunsets in Tunisia”They reminded him of the sunsets in the Tunisian desert – a veritable ode to the gentleness of summer days,” said the studio, known for its playfully eclectic designs and shortlisted in the emerging interior designer category at this year’s upcoming Dezeen Awards.

    The coffee shop’s entrance is flanked by two bright red benches topped with metallic-effect fabric – one curved, and the other straight.
    Uchronia crafted the counter from stainless steelLow-slung interlocking tables, which can double as stools, can be reconfigured to suit customers’ needs.
    Uchronia placed a chunky stainless steel counter at the back of the intimate cafe, which is overlooked by deep orange lacquered shelving – a design element found in the other two Cafe Nuances outlets.

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    “This new address picks up on the codes present in the second shop, accentuating the [coffee] brand’s colourful, futuristic retro universe,” explained the studio.
    A cluster of striking, spherical objects were finished in the same colours as the rest of the space and suspended from the reflective ceiling.
    Planet-like orbs add decoration to the space”Unlike [this branch’s] two big sisters, whose interiors feature striated shapes, here, the poly mirror tiles are complemented by half-spheres in saturated colours, accentuating the dreamlike feel of the coffee shop,” continued Uchronia.
    “They create the illusion of floating balls, which could be mistaken for Saturn.”
    Bespoke interlocking tables also function as stoolsThe studio previously livened up a Haussman-era Paris apartment for a pair of jewellery designers with furniture crafted to nod to the appearance of precious stones.
    Elsewhere, Canadian design duo Julia Jamrozik and Coryn Kempster created a sky-blue coffee shop in a century-old house in Buffalo, New York, with an optical illusion staircase.
    The photography is by Félix Dol Maillot.

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    Studio XAG creates fixtures for Coach pop-up using discarded leather scraps

    A colourful, reconstituted leather made from cutting room scraps was among the recycled materials used to create the fixtures and fittings for Coachtopia, a London pop-up store for American label Coach.

    Located in the Wonder Room at Selfridges in London, the temporary store was created to launch a new collection of Coach products crafted from reused leather bags and recycled materials.
    Called Coachtopia, the collection seeks to challenge fashion’s linear system where most products end up in landfill.
    Coachtopia was located in department store Selfridges’ Wonder RoomEach of the products in the Coachtopia collection has a clear pathway for reuse and recycling, according to the brand, and comes with an embedded NFC chip that tracks its lifecycle.
    Chosen by Coach for its sustainable approach and B Corp-certified status, retail experience agency Studio XAG was commissioned to create a temporary store space to launch the product line.

    The resulting space, which features a modular display system made of recyclable parts that slot together, has been shortlisted in the retail interior (small) category of Dezeen Awards 2023.
    It features display counters made from reconstituted leather”The Coachtopia product line is designed to be ‘circular from the start’ – considering the future life of a product proactively, rather than reactively,” Studio XAG said.
    “We mirrored Coach’s circular ethos for the collection through three approaches to the physical space.”
    The first approach was to keep the use of virgin materials to a minimum by using repurposed neon flex, recycled leather scraps and Ecoboard – a material made from agricultural waste.
    The modular fixtures were “made to be remade”Secondly, Studio XAG ensured that the modular fixtures, like the products on sale, were ‘made to be remade’ and could be disassembled and repurposed at the end of their current use.
    Finally, the studio selected materials that offer meaningful recycling opportunities at their eventual end of life and said it considered the embodied carbon, toxicity and afterlife opportunities in every component.

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    “The challenge was to create a pop-up that would have visual impact, but could be dismantled and rebuilt in new locations, again and again,” explained Studio XAG.
    “Any items which couldn’t be used in a future pop-up, such as the hoarding and some of the wall panels, were donated to Selfridges to use in their future launches.”
    Studio XAG used Ecoboard to create displaysThe collection’s slogan Have Taste Love Waste, which serves as a statement of intent and action, was boldly written in neon signage crafted from offcuts of neon flex that would otherwise be discarded.
    The lighting will be reused for other key stores, including Coach’s flagship on Regent Street.
    The store’s slogan was made from reused neon flex”To create a sustainable lighting solution was a challenge, as most neon alternatives are manufactured from virgin materials,” explained Studio XAG.
    “To resolve this, we contacted a lighting manufacturer and requested that they collect all their offcuts from previous projects over the months leading up to the installation of Coachtopia,” it added.
    “All of these offcuts were then meticulously threaded together to make a unique set of signs, made up of hundreds of individual scraps which would have otherwise been thrown in the bin.”
    Studio XAG chose materials that “offer meaningful recycling opportunities”The Coachtopia tables and display units are covered in reconstituted leather made using scraps from the cutting-room floor that might have otherwise gone to landfill.
    These modular pieces can easily be taken apart using a system of slotting together rather than permanent glueing or fixing.
    Colourful leather scraps were used to create displaysEcoboard – a carbon-negative material manufactured in the Netherlands from seasonal agricultural waste like straw, seeds, rice and corn – was used in place of MDF. Unlike MDF, Ecoboard does not emit any damaging organic acids.
    “In the Wonder Room, visitors are given insight into what circularity means for the future of fashion,” commented the studio. “The space feels exploratory and educational, using sustainable materiality and clear signage as a guide.”
    Other projects shortlisted in the retail interiors (small) category include a gallery shop in Australia housed in a “translucent bubble” and a steel-clad boutique in Bratislava.

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    Spacon & X designs “hyper-eclectic” showroom for car dealer Lynk & Co

    Danish design studio Spacon & X has carved a cave out of cardboard and installed a bare tree in the Lynk & Co car showroom in Düsseldorf, Germany.

    The studio aimed for the 400-square-metre space to have more of an impact than the cars on show.
    A mesh curtain separates the car from the rest of the showroom”The overall design is in intentional contrast to your average car dealership, with the spatial design as a louder experience than the actual product – the car,” Spacon & X founding partner Svend Jacob Pedersen told Dezeen.
    “The spatial design is hyper-eclectic, with a new immersive spatial experience waiting to ambush you around each corner.”
    A purple light floods the showroom from the outsideLynk & Co describes its showrooms as “clubs” from which members can buy, lease or borrow a car, and the Düsseldorf space was designed not to look like a traditional showroom from the exterior.

    Instead, purple lights, clothes on hangers and a corner with a colourful sofa makes the car dealership resemble a lifestyle store.
    The Lynk & Co showroom contains a variety of materialsOnce inside, customers are met by an unusual, cave-like space.
    “The cave space is made of multiple plys of laser-cut sheets of cardboard,” Pedersen said.
    Spacon & X created a cardboard cave for the storeOne car is always on display inside the dealership. This sits next to the cardboard cave, and is partly hidden behind a light chain curtain.
    Spacon & X worked with multiple different materials, including bare wood and aluminium, to create the Lynk & Co space.

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    “With the very eclectic direction of the space, a wide palette of materials have been brought into play,” Pedersen explained.
    “To highlight a few – cardboard has been used for the cave, to create an unexpected balance between the immersive and organic expression of the cave and a very familiar, inexpensive material like cardboard,” he added.
    “We have used aluminium chain curtains to create a light transparent frame around the car on display.”
    The meeting room has an all-pine interiorThe studio also created an organic feel for the Lynk & Co meeting room, which has an all-wood interior with a pale tree at its centre.
    “Another material to highlight is the all-raw pine meeting room with an actual tree stripped of the bark, underlining our appreciation of raw untreated materiality,” Pedersen said.
    A “melting” streetlight features in the showroomFor the main space, Spacon & X designed a “melting” corner, with a streetlight that has bent over and chairs that appear to float into a puddle on the floor.
    The showroom’s “disco” bathroom has a bright-red colour palette with an op-art style black-and-white patterned floor that resembles an interior in a David Lynch film, while a fitting room has been filled with large gold baubles that appear to sprout from a wall.
    The bathroom has an op-art design”Our spatial expression creates a tapestry of diverse scenarios within the Düsseldorf store, from serene conversations to otherworldly caves,” the studio said.
    “We seamlessly blend contrasting elements, from warm wooden meeting rooms to rough concrete displays, and from melting furniture lounges to dazzling champagne fitting rooms.”
    Spacon & X has previously designed the interior for restaurant Noma’s burger spinoff POPL and created a kiosk-like design library for its own Copenhagen HQ.
    The photography is courtesy of Lynk & Co.

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    Akin Atelier houses Gallery Shop at Sydney Modern in “translucent bubble”

    Curved resin walls define this retail space, which architecture studio Akin Atelier has created for the Sydney Modern extension at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

    Designed by Akin Atelier with surfboard designer Hayden Cox, the Gallery Shop is located in the entrance pavilion of the gallery that was recently completed by Pritzker Architecture Prize-winning studio SANAA.
    The retail space is conceived as a “translucent bubble” within the entrance area, the studio said, and it aims to challenge the typical commercial experience in a museum shop.
    Akin Atelier has created the Gallery Shop at Sydney Modern”The shop captures natural light throughout the day, bringing dynamic reflections and refractions of the city while holding people, objects, and books within its centre,” Akin Atelier told Dezeen.
    “[It] showcases products to passers-by through the lens of the resin walls – gently maximising the identity of the space while preserving the architectural experience of the new building.”

    The Gallery Shop comprises two resin walls that curve around its displays, with a gap between the two of them forming the entry point.
    It has curved walls made from a resinThe installation is placed in the northwest corner of the entrance pavilion, to the left-hand side of its entrance, meaning that its distinctive resin walls are visible from the street.
    Its walls are constructed of 29 modules formed of 12 tonnes of resin. According to the studio, the resin is a type of “bio-resin” manufactured to incorporate biological matter.
    It sits within the building’s entrance pavilion that was designed by SANAA”It is composed of a minimum 26 per cent biological matter,” said the studio.
    “[This reduces] the amount of embodied carbon as well as reducing toxicity during the manufacturing process.”

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    The distinct tonal gradient of the bio-resin was achieved by hand pouring layers of colour into custom moulds – a process that took 109 days.
    Meanwhile, its glossy translucency was achieved through hand sanding followed by seven rounds of hand polishing.
    The translucent material allows natural light through the space. Photo by Tim SalisburyThe resin’s earthy hues reference the sandstone used in the original Art Gallery of New South Wales, while its gradation is a nod to the layered nature of Sydney’s bedrock of sandstone.
    “The handmade nature of resin casting and finishing allowed for experimentation across colour and form while addressing the patinated qualities of the outside environment,” explained Akin Atelier.
    Two curved walls enclose the shopInside the Gallery Shop, adjustable resin shelves line the curved walls, housing books and publications. Stainless steel is used for display plinths, providing a contrast to the warm tones of the resin.
    The project has been shortlisted in the small retail interior category of the Dezeen Awards.
    Akin Atelier also recently used tactile materials such as onyx, plaster and travertine to form the interiors of a branch of the womenswear store Camilla and Marc in Melbourne.
    The photography is by Rory Gardiner unless otherwise stated. 

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    Barde vanVoltt draws on Japanese zen gardens for Calico Club interior

    Dutch studio Barde vanVoltt has used rippled mirrored glass, boulders and pebbles to create the interior of Calico Club, a retail store located in a century-old farmhouse in the Netherlands.

    The studio aimed to combine Dutch heritage with Japanese tradition to create an “unexpected” but never overwhelming interior for the store, which is located in the village of Nistelrode.
    Pebbles decorate the floor in Calico Club”The main objective was to pay respect to the monumental 100-year-old farmhouse that Calico Club moved into,” Barde vanVoltt co-founder Valérie Boerma told Dezeen.
    “The challenge was to find ways to add materials we could remove easily to keep the original state of the construction as it was,” she added.
    Barde vanVoltt added plants to the interiorBoerma and her co-founder Bart van Seggelen added several organic details to the space, which has been divided into different sections.

    “The floor plan is shaped like a Japanese zen garden and its traditional elements of rock, water, and plants have been interpreted in more modern and abstract ways,” Seggelen explained.
    Boulders are scattered throughout the spaceOn polished concrete flooring, the studio placed whitewashed boulders that are used as retail displays and created elevated pebble islands above which garments are hung.
    Barde vanVoltt also designed matching islands made from walnut wood. The same warm wood is also used for the fitting rooms, cabinets and counters.
    Walnut wood is used for the counters inside the storeMateriality is an important aspect of the project, with rippled mirrored glass added in a nod to the water features that are often included in zen gardens.
    “Rippled mirrored glass and silver colour was to create contrast and depth,” Boerma said.

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    “The rippled glass keeps changing from wherever you look at it, this added an extra layer to the space, much like water, that is always changing,” she added.
    The aim was for the interior to “nourish creative flow, harmony and support it with a screen-free store policy to create calm in an unpredictable world,” the studio said.
    A large tree adds a touch of nature at the back of the storeAt the back of the store, a tree sits inside a round glass bench behind a metal wall divider.
    “Encased in a circular glass bench, the tree and the fashion collection opposite is given its moment thanks to a sheet of curved, rolled metal to separate it from the fitting rooms,” Seggelen said.
    “And at the front of the store, customers are shown the best of the collection with floating glass display cylinders filled with hay.”
    Calico Club is located in a red-brick former farmhouseThe pared-back designs and shiny materials inside the store contrast against its exterior, a rustic red-brick farmhouse.
    “With every project we do, we feel the responsibility to search for high quality, natural materials that are produced in a sustainable way,” Boerma said.
    “These materials and heritage come with earthy tones and it suited well with our Japanese reference,” Seggelen added.
    Rippled glass references the water in zen gardensCalico Club has been shortlisted in the retail interior (large) category of Dezeen Awards 2023.
    Previous projects by Barde vanVoltt include a former garage in Amsterdam that was transformed into a family home.
    Other recent projects in the Netherlands include an underground house and a wood-lined home in Zwaag.

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    D415 reimagines mundane materials for Bratislava boutique Som Store

    Design studio D415 has used standard construction materials such as plasterboard and steel profiles in unexpected ways to create a concept store in Bratislava, spotlighting young fashion designers from Slovakia and neighbouring Czechia.

    Set inside the Nivy shopping centre, Som Store gives each featured fashion brand an equally-sized space in which to showcase its work with the aim of helping the region’s designers reach a wider audience.
    D415 has designed the SOM Store boutique in BratislavaIn order to present these Sometimes disparate collections in a cohesive way, D415 opted for an approach the studio calls “introvert x extrovert”.
    By enveloping each collection within panels of steel, positioned at a 45-degree angle from the entrance, only glimpses of the products can be seen from the storefront.
    The shop offers different local fashion designers a small retail spaceAs they venture further into the store, customers are gradually able to see and browse the different collections.

    “When entering the store, the entire space has an introverted character,” D415’s Peter Gonda told Dezeen. “All the models on display can be seen only in a hint and the number of outfits on display is not distracting.”
    “The extroverted character of the space is only apparent upon entering the store, where the individual models on display are revealed from behind the rotated walls.”
    Each unit is framed by steel walls placed at a 45-degree angleRather than putting off customers, Gonda has found that this set-up helps to create a sense of intrigue that draws them into the store.
    “The client was concerned that the insufficient presentation of clothes from the entrance to the store would have a negative impact on the store’s traffic,” he explained. “The opposite turned out to be the right solution.”
    “Customers are attracted to enter the store by a certain degree of mystery, which is not typical for fashion stores in large shopping centres, where the new collection is already in the store window.”

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    These 45-degree angles are repeated throughout the whole space, with its angled grid layout created using a matrix of steel profiles.
    Here, this humble material – commonly used for framing drywalls – is exposed and celebrated as the hero material of the space.
    “The element was used raw, with a standard galvanized surface treatment just as it is sold for building structures,” Gonda said.
    The “floating” cash register has a simple rectilinear designThe steel profiles are used against a backdrop of unpainted plasterboard. Both are typically unappreciated materials, according to Gonda, and both have a matt grey in colour while being distinctive enough to create a subtle visual contrast.
    “It’s a demonstration of how it is possible to create a final element that is not only functional but also decorative from simple building elements, which were primarily intended as a supporting secondary structure,” Gonda said.
    Finished in the same pale grey tone, the resin floor was chosen because it can easily be repaired by tradespeople, which according to D415 makes it more sustainable.
    A multifunctional furniture piece provides seating and display spaceSimilarly, the steel elements can be unscrewed and reused for their original purpose further down the line.
    To ensure that the clothes remain the focal point, the furniture elements including the versatile display cabinets and the “floating” cash desk are simple, rectilinear in design and made from birch board.
    At the centre of the space is a long multifunctional furniture element that variously serves as a display stand for accessories and a bench that provides seating for trying on products and for any fashion shows and events that will be held in the store.
    The changing rooms are hidden behind beige curtainsOut-sized squashy seats dot the space around the changing area, colour-coordinated with the full-height curtains that frame the fitting rooms.
    Som Store has been shortlisted in the small retail interior category of this year’s Dezeen Awards.
    Also in the running is a plastic-free paint shop by Linda Bergroth and a skincare store finished in salvaged materials and biotextiles by Nina+Co.
    The photography is by D415.

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