Haute couture is proving to be a rich source of inspiration for Future Systems. The design for Selfridges in Birmingham was, famously, based on a Paco Rabane dress. Its designs for Italian designer Marni have been inspired by Marni's own collections.
The practice was asked to develop a design concept which could be adapted to suit any space, and would work equally well in department store concessions or stand-alone shops. So far the practice has completed three units in Tokyo and a 140m 2shop in London's Sloane Street which opened at the end of September. It is currently working on a Milan branch, which will open at the beginning of March, and one in New York, which is due for completion in August.
Marni's exquisitely made clothes are known for their sensuous cut, and are often inspired by motifs taken from nature. Future Systems' strategy was to create a blueprint for an 'interior landscape' which would would allow any conventional rectangular space to take on the appearance of an organic flowing space.
The basic strategy is the same for all units. An irregularly shaped floor of reconstituted glass is installed 75mm above the existing floor, forming a sculptural white 'island'. In stand-alone shops where floor-to-ceiling heights allow, the island is reflected by a mirror-polished stainless steel ceiling of the same shape, and clothes are displayed on tall, delicate stainless steel branches fixed to the floor. Each branch holds just three items of clothing. Fixings on the underside of each branch hold the clothes hangars - just three to a branch - so that there is no interruption to the sinuous line of the rail.
Clothes are also displayed on a stainless steel rail which curves around the perimeter of the island, and changes from hanging rail to flat surface to create areas for display and for the serving counter.Where ceiling height is limited - as is often the case in department store concessions - clothes are hung from stainless steel ceiling hooks.
The fact that garments are displayed individually rather than bunched together means that each garment can be viewed from all angles, and makes them easier to touch. It is also a means of presenting the clothes as sculptural elements which are an integral part of the space. In fact they are the driving force of the design.The colour of the painted resin wall and floors - currently a bright blue - can be changed from time to time to suit the current season's collections.
ARCHITECT Future Systems: Jan Kaplicky; Amanda Levete; Torquil McIntosh; Simon Mitchell; Rachel Stevenson
SITE ARCHITECT (TOKYO) Geography Architect
STEELWORK FABRICATION (LONDON) Marzorati Ronchetti
MAIN CONTRACTOR (LONDON) Purple Shopfitters