Reinventing Retail the David Adjaye Way

June 22, 2020
by Alyssa Nations
Reinventing Retail the David Adjaye Way

In retail and beyond, recognizing the importance of experiential spaces has gained popularity over the past few years in a race to keep physical stores relevant and create experiences that draw people to venture in-person and outside the online marketplace. Especially as the challenges of 2020 continue to change the retail landscape, we're looking towards designers like David Adjaye, who give us hope for the reinvention of spaces to shop, learn, and visit with awe once this is all over. 

David Adjaye's breadth of architecture and design knows no limits – from civic buildings and exhibitions, domestic spaces and studios for artists, to his mastery of shaping retail stores into a physical manifestation of brand identity. But it doesn't stop there. His heavy involvement with project research and creative discourse goes beyond the confines of traditional architecture, even testing material and form first by designing furniture.

And luckily for us, that same prowess exists in the furniture world with a Knoll partnership. In 2010, Adjaye began working with Knoll over a three-year process to design the Washington Collection, which includes the Washington Skeleton™ ChairWashington Skin™ Chair, and the Washington Corona™ Coffee Table. The primary idea behind the chairs was to mimic the exact shape of someone sitting, and the material used on each chair is a play on the namesake – to mirror the internal and external parts of the body. The table furthers this inside/outside theme challenging traditional forms by using raw sandcast on the outside and a mirror-polished interior.

This week to honor all our friends in retail, we want to explore some of our favorite retail spaces Adjaye has built.

1. The Webster in LA

Adjaye's most recent completed work was The Webster, an incredible salmon-colored boutique bursting out of the Beverly Center in Los Angeles. In the entry-way, there is even a panoramic window composed of three sheets of curved glass, creating a unique angular viewpoint that reimagines window-shopping. The Webster is the flagship (and seventh store) of the brand founded by Laure Hériard Dubreuil.

Imagery Credit: The Webster

2. Roksanda Ilincic Store in London

The Serbian fashion designer Roksanda Ilincic desired her space in the Mayfair district of London to reflect the geometry in her clothing, and Adjaye made that a reality. The walls are comprised of staggered and irregularly-layered concrete, creating an almost 3D pattern to the eye. The neutral palette is peppered with colored or mirror-finishes on the shelves and rails that help create flow throughout the customer journey.

Imagery Credit: Roksanda

3. Proenza Schouler Store in Soho

Complete with an antechamber as visitors enter that separates the interior from the historic cast-iron NYC building, the self-proclaimed tough-luxe branding of Proenza Schouler is on full display. The multi-planed space focuses on balance: aggregate-poured concrete meets bright natural light, blackened steel converges with refurbished timber flooring.

Imagery via W Magazine

4. Valextra Concession in London

For this project commissioned by Valextra, there was a concentration on glass-reinforced concrete for the form and texture of the partitions. The challenge was to make this space stand out while being inside Harrods and succeeded by using this crinkled concrete (which, if you can believe, is less than an inch thick) to treat their luxury leather goods like prized heirlooms.

Imagery Credit: Valextra

5. Alara Concept Store in Lagos

Alara is the first creative hub and destination in Victoria Island, Lagos focused on emerging West African talent in an immersive retail and lifestyle environment. In terms of its design, cast concrete was utilized to establish an industrial feel, with black concrete on the inside and red-pigmented concrete on the outside. The interior of the structure contains a system of platforms, landings, and staircases that allow for the display of everything from fashion to furniture. The very top of the building contains an art gallery and terrace!

Imagery Credit: Adjaye Associates

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