The need for a city, and its dwellers, to be compelled to accept the dynamic design sensibilities that the world had adopted in order to enhance the sensory experience of shopping, is most obvious in the city of Bangalore.
I was more than eager to begin working on the design of a high-end fashion store in Bangalore when the offer to collaborate on the same was put forward by architect Fabian Ostner. The chance of working with Fabian, a perfectionist at detailing, was an opportunity that I could not have refused. The challenge of designing an experience, that would not only stun the perceived notion of a high-end fashion store, but would also draw the attention of one and all, was an appealing incentive offered to us when we first met the client. It only helped to have a client who had an extremely refined perception of fashion and all that it encompassed.
The fact that the store would be retailing international fashion labels like Nina Ricci, John Galliano, Christian Lacroix, Helmut Lang and others, was an overwhelming driving force behind the need to create a unique shopping experience for the customer. Research on various emerging design trends and ideologies and deliberations with the clients on their aspirations for the brand, helped us reach a point where it became inevitable to design the store using experiential design as a tool. The site being located on Lavelle Road, the idea was to create a space that would stand-out in the already brimming world of retail with other high-end stores positioned in the immediate context. Allowing a large amount of flexibility in the visual merchandise design and permitting various permutations and combinations for display became another important aspect guiding the design of the store.
The existing structure and the almost disturbingly sorry state of its insides became central to the design concept. The unfinished almost dilapidated shell was retained and in some aspects the condition was exaggerated to ensure that the shell though rustic in its appeal, played only a secondary but irreplaceable role in highlighting the merchandise. The plaster was chipped off the walls and the steel used for the staircase and display props was corroded to create this base canvas for the product display. Tiles mimicking the rawness of cement were used for the floor to add to this feel. The space was now ready to accept the ‘crisp’ burgundy panel insert, which would generate a noticeably loud visual buzz. The dynamic panel, beginning on the outside, bends and folds while moving through the store allowing the store to make use of its body, before forcing its way out through the façade glass. The lighting and the display props have been designed and used in a manner that allowed them to be viewed as designed objects without overwhelming the underlying purpose of being functional elements.
The ‘crisp’ burgundy panel, in many senses, would embody the experience, the journey that was envisaged for a visitor to the store. The visitor would enter the store with preconceived beliefs and during his time at the store, his notions and perception would be treated to an unknown, shocking, yet pleasantly exciting world that would let him leave with a renewed, progressive and invigorated understanding of the possibilities that the world of retail could provide today.
‘Crisp’, like the fashion brands that it is related with, was created to be a leader in stimulating and challenging the sensibilities of the most discerning fashion connoisseurs in Bangalore.
Photographs of the completed store.
All photographs are co-owned by Vijay Nambiar Design and Fabian Ostner Architecture Pvt. Ltd.
Photo Credits: Seemal Karthik and Karthik Chandrasekariah