Go with the flow
An eye-catching, sinuous design by architect Sybarite aims to unite the levels of a new Marni store
Marni's run of radical interiors continues with its new store in Sloane Street in central London. Architect Sybarite, styling itself as 'designers addicted to luxury and the pleasure of the senses', was set up by Simon Mitchell and Torquil McIntosh, ex-Future Systems, who also worked on Marni's Tokyo store, which opened in 2002.
An observation of shopper behaviour was a key trigger to this fit-out - that most customers entering a shop never leave the ground floor. Here the majority of retail floorspace is upstairs and the area for possible future expansion there too. So the design theme is very much about flow, particularly flowing up to the first floor. It starts with a completely glazed front wall to the ground floor and a white floor running to the back of the store, where it curves up to become the sloping rear wall, either side of the curved sweep of a Hollywood stair.
The display fittings are like some horror movie plant, their surging growth suddenly arrested by being turned to stainless steel, winding unbroken across the floor and up the stairs. (The architect is keen to show the unobtrusiveness of the joints between branches prefabricated in Italy, highly impressed as it is by the skills of metalworker Marzorati Ronchetti, so closely matching its drawings and models, delivering a seamless mirror finish. ) The colour red is a uniting thread between retail floors, with the red ceilings and their ovoid light pods very evident from the street through the windows of the first-floor Victorian facade. Red carpeted pools also break up the floor area, particularly important on the large first floor. (The step down onto carpeted pools, first used in the Tokyo store, instinctively led some Japanese users there to remove their shoes. ) Money has been focused on merchandise and movement. Most walls are simply plastered and painted. Clearly, though, it is a high-care environment - polishing the stainless steel, daily cleaning of the white floor, its surface sealant softened and reformed by the action of the polisher. And in a few years it will all be gone. Today, though, it is effective for the client as a draw, and the evidence shows that people are being enticed to the upper floors, the function following the form.
CONTRACT START DATE 19 May 2003
STORE OPENING DATE 19 August 2003
CONTRACT JCT 98 CONTRACT SUM £1 million
GROSS INTERNAL AREA Basement 140m 2, ground floor 140m 2, first floor 300m 2, additional space 70m2
CLIENT Marni Retail UK
ARCHITECT Sybarite: Simon Mitchell, Torquil McIntosh, Iain Mackay
STRUCTURAL ENGINEER Techniker
MAIN CONTRACTOR Chart Contracts
SUBCONTRACTORS Metalwork Marzorati
Sybarite www. sybarite-uk. com
Techniker www. techniker. ltd. uk
Marzorati Ronchetti www. marzoratironchetti. it
CCS www. c-c-solutions. co. uk