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Sensual designs for personal indulgence

interiors and fit-outs

‘It’s seriously elegant,’ says Lorenzo Apicella of the interior he has created for Sculpture, a shop in London’s Brook Street dedicated to lingerie, swimwear and outerwear from La Perla Fashion Group. The fact that the shop can always be assured of a coherent range of products prompted Apicella to design a low-key setting, which treats the merchandise as a major element of the design. The result is an environment which La Perla describes as ‘elegant, light and cool … a foil to the richness of the merchandise - sensual, yet as serious as the collection which it holds.’

Serious and sensuous shopping can be a secretive affair, and Sculpture is designed to be discreet. The tasteful navy blue shopfront sits unobtrusively in the Grade I-listed Georgian building, and the passer-by is more likely to be startled by the rarely seen phenomenon of two blue plaques side by side - announcing that Jimi Hendrix used to live here, and that Handel once lived next door. Sculpture’s surveillance system is well-concealed, and it is perfectly possible to peruse much of the merchandise before being aware of any observation at all. The reception desk is tucked politely in the rear.

Apicella has set the coir entrance mat, the maple display plinth in the window, the built-in display unit, and even the suspended ceilings at odd angles. This series of small moves combines to create the impression of a meandering route, which Apicella describes as exaggerating the length of the shop - ‘much more sensuous than something with corners’.

Shot silk stretched over mdf panels creates backdrops for the merchandise - ‘just one example of each product is shown; we wanted each item to be like an exhibit in a gallery’. Perfume is displayed on 12mm-thick glass shelves, while additional stock is stored in drawers in a purpose-built spray-painted mdf unit underneath a toughened-glass counter top.

Toughened glass recurs throughout the scheme. Glass shelves span the space between columns to separate the front and the back of the shop. Mirrors reflect the shelves, bringing an illusion of space and light into the innermost recesses of the deep plan. The staircase to the lower ground floor has a solid balustrade of 20mm toughened glass, ‘thick enough to bring out the colour of glass’, says Apicella. ‘It actually has a greenish tinge’. The steel handrail stops short of the edges of the glass, emphasising the fact that the glass is sufficiently strong to be self-supporting.

The staircase leads past two Georgian windows, one of which is now an etched glass backdrop for the display models which stand on the limestone sill. The lower floor has cool limestone floors, rather than the maple used elsewhere, and is dominated by a table made from a single sheet of toughened glass. A wall of full-height mirrors conceals an outsize changing room, designed, says Apicella ‘for when you go shopping with your friends’. Eventually, this lower floor will open onto Horseshoe Yard, which is set to become a fashionable shopping enclave complete with Conran restaurant and Versace shop.

CREDITS

CLIENT

Hornvale

ARCHITECT

Apicella Associates: Lorenzo Apicella, David Gausden, Michael Mullen, Dragon Sukljevic, Ben Elsdon

QUANTITY SURVEYOR

Boyden & Co

STRUCTURAL ENGINEER

Alan Conisbee & Associates

CONTRACTOR

Robin Ellis

CONTRACT

jfc 84

TOTAL FLOOR AREA

140m2

SUBCONTRACTORS AND SUPPLIERS

electrical subcontractor Tinemint, m&e subcontractor The Cool Air Company, joinery/fittings Benchmark, metalwork Sunbeam, joinery Timtec International, soft furnishings Atrium, stool design Alison Borer, supplied by Atrium, AV Metro, silk panels Mary Fox Linton, retail security Advanced, computer systems Futura

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