DRAWI NG a crowd

Belle - - Woman R I Ght Now -

ON­LINE PUR­CHAS­ING at home in py­ja­mas has its charm, but there’s noth­ing like a real-life shop­ping spree to get in­spi­ra­tion flow­ing. In­creas­ingly, retailers are turn­ing to in­te­rior ar­chi­tects and de­sign­ers of renown to cre­ate unique bou­tique ex­pe­ri­ences which in­car­nate their brand.

“Our clients are re­ally want­ing us to ex­plore how we can ex­tend their brand lan­guage through ma­te­ri­als and client ex­pe­ri­ence,” says Mel­bourne in­te­rior de­signer Fiona Lynch. “Whether at home or out shop­ping peo­ple want to ex­pe­ri­ence de­sign that is beau­ti­ful. Even if they’re in an of­fice or a hos­pi­tal or a store, they don’t want to feel like they’re in a com­mer­cial en­vi­ron­ment.”

Lynch’s Em­po­rium Mel­bourne store for women’s fash­ion la­bel Vik­to­ria & Woods is as rig­or­ously sen­su­ous as the in­te­ri­ors she de­vises for her pri­vate clients. A re­strained ma­te­rial pal­ette of pale ter­razzo for the floors, dap­pled grey ren­der walls and hewn tim­ber fit­tings mean that tex­ture and touch are pri­mor­dial. Gen­er­ous drap­ing adds quiet drama; a mono­lithic Co­rian sales desk says ‘slick’; raw-edged but­tery leather benches speak to the beauty in sim­plic­ity – all el­e­ments evoca­tive of the Vik­to­ria & Woods spirit.

“We wanted to cre­ate a warm and invit­ing space for the cus­tomer, re­flect­ing the brand’s clean and min­i­mal aes­thetic,” says Lynch. “There’s a sub­tle nod to Ja­panese de­sign phi­los­o­phy where there is a per­fect bal­ance of sim­plic­ity and the un­ex­pected.”

Syd­ney in­te­rior ar­chi­tect Ge­orge Livis­sia­nis took a sim­i­lar brand­fo­cused ap­proach when con­ceiv­ing the first bricks-and-mor­tar store for suc­cess­ful on­line la­bel Bec + Bridge. “We didn’t just sit down and start de­sign­ing a store,” Livis­sia­nis ex­plains. “We spent quite a bit of time with them, break­ing down their brand to get a thor­ough un­der­stand­ing of their DNA and then built it back to­gether as a phys­i­cal space.

“We looked at a lot of the ref­er­ences they use when shoot­ing their cam­paigns and re­alised that so many of them are shot out­side, beach­side, in colon­nades, on ter­races.” And so the flag­ship Bec + Bridge bou­tique in West­field Bondi Junc­tion is paved in creamy bricks in a chunky her­ring­bone for­ma­tion, the ceil­ing has been dropped to cre­ate bar­rel vault­ing, arced mir­rors are sus­pended to ex­tend a sense of per­spec­tive. These for­mal ar­chi­tec­tural el­e­ments are fin­ished in gen­tle shell pink and off­set by un­du­lat­ing drapes – the savvy mix of

struc­ture and flu­id­ity an apt in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the brand’s al­lure. Livis­sia­nis is a mae­stro of mood, the man be­hind some of Syd­ney’s sig­na­ture eater­ies – Cho Cho San, Apollo and Chin Chin among them – and un­der­stands that light­ing is key to the feel­good fac­tor. At Bec + Bridge he has con­cealed all light sources be­hind the rolling ceil­ing, al­low­ing it to wash gen­tle shad­ows across the room, mim­ick­ing day­light in the depths of a shop­ping mall.

Light­ing is pri­mor­dial, too, in the new Aje store in Perth’s up­mar­ket Clare­mont Quar­ter shop­ping cen­tre. Mel­bourne stu­dio We Are Tri­ibe cre­ated a float­ing ceil­ing from be­hind which light­ing bathes the space in an ethe­real glow. At the rear of the room three tall, slen­der arch­ways draw in the eye, their arcs obliquely in­clined to cre­ate an il­lu­sion of ex­tra depth. Fin­ished in tex­tured con­crete ren­der, they are as dra­matic as a de Chirico streetscape of Torino.

“The store is a buf­fet of tac­tile ma­te­ri­als,” says Christina Symes, one half of We Are Tri­ibe. “Aje’s aes­thetic is light, white and nat­u­ral,” says the other half, Jes­sica D’abadie. “And we in­ter­preted those at­tributes by lay­er­ing Ja­panese ce­ram­ics, nat­u­ral stone, Ital­ian traver­tine.” De­ployed on the fa­cade and floor and as dis­play shelv­ing, Tri­ibe chose traver­tine in the truly ap­petis­ing shade of creamed honey.

“Don’t un­der­es­ti­mate what you can do with your space,” urged Chris San­der­son of UK trend agency Fu­ture Lab­o­ra­tory at their Got­tlieb Dut­tweiler Institute Re­tail Sum­mit in Septem­ber 2017. “For many con­sumers, the phys­i­cal store is still a key place to pro­vide a mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ence and ser­vice.”

Clever in­te­rior de­sign­ers do that by in­tegrity of con­cept and rigour of ex­e­cu­tion – but also by the ad­di­tion of a lit­tle je ne sais quoi, a play­ful flaunt­ing of their de­sign savvy. At Vik­to­ria & Woods, Lynch in­cor­po­rates be­spoke quartz crys­tal, brass and tubular LED wall sconces by Mel­bourne light­ing mae­stro Christo­pher Boots to add a sculp­tural edge to the space.

Livis­sia­nis in­stalled rare 1970s lu­cite chairs by Charles Hol­lis Jones (re-up­hol­stered in Ice­landic sheep­skin) to the Bec + Bridge store – and de­signed a one-off lu­cite con­sole to match. We Are Tri­ibe ap­pro­pri­ated cop­per pip­ing to cre­ate be­spoke clothes racks for the Aje store, leav­ing it un­treated to al­low pati­na­tion over time. Mem­o­rable brick-and­mor­tar mo­ments all.

fion­a­lynch.com.au; weare­tri­ibe.com; george­livis­sia­nis.com

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