Location: Shanghai, China
Floor area: 259 Square meters
Design Time: Oct. 2020 – Dec. 2020
Date of completion: Apr. 2021
Interior Design: Kokaistudios
Chief Designers: Filippo Gabbiani, Andrea Destefanis
Design Director: Ian Yu
Project Managers: Yao Yao
Design Team (alphabetical order by last name): Junyu Chen, Vivian Fang, Lu Peng
Photography: CreatAR Images
Text: Frances Arnold
Media Contact: Jacqueline Chiang
Email: [email protected]
Kokaistudios is an award winning architecture and interior design firm founded in 2000 in Venice by Italian architects Filippo Gabbiani & Andrea Destefanis. Headquartered in Shanghai since 2002 we have grown into multi-cultural firm of 60 people working on a global scale with projects in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and North America. Kokaistudios partners with our clients to collaboratively develop innovative & ground breaking projects in diverse fields of design. Primarily focused on developing cultural, corporate, commercial, hospitality & retail projects we have also worked extensively on urban regeneration projects involving the requalification of heritage locations. Kokaistudios aims to develop projects that add positively to the built environment and social fabric of the cities and countries in which they are located.
Born in Venice, Italy, from a famous family of artists and glass makers, Filippo Gabbiani developed very early a multidisciplinary interest for art and design. Starting to cooperate with his family in designing and producing artistic glass he completed his studies at University of Architecture of Venice where he graduated with an innovative research sponsored by the European Community on usage of alternative energies in architecture. Following his instinctive curiosity for different disciplines and other cultures he worked in several European countries and in the U.S.A. cooperating with prestigious firms of architecture, interior and industrial design prior to the founding of Kokaistudios.
Born in Turin, Italy from a family of theater artists, Andrea Destefanis developed very early a strong interest for visual arts and scenography. Growing up in a refined cultural environment he moved to live in Venice where completing his education at University of Architecture of Venice he started to cooperate with several architectural firms and developed award winning projects in architecture and city planning. Moved by his personal interest in different fields of design he founded a co-operative studio focused on research and developing early innovative architectural computer graphic design tools prior to the founding of Kokaistudios.
Challenged with creating an out-of-this-world retail space in the heart of Shanghai, Kokaistudios transformed fashion label IEW.H’s futuristic brand concept into playful design elements for its 259 sqm flagship store. A striking frontage incorporating unexpected materials draws shoppers into a space that takes inspiration from planetary rings. Despite striking an unmistakably architectural tone, the store has been designed for flexibility, and can be readily adapted for future brand partnerships, pop-ups and events.
A newcomer to China’s vibrant apparel scene, the label’s acronym stands for ‘Infinite Explorer with Hypersense.’ Taking this as a starting point, Kokaistudios established broad themes of antigravity, memory and fluidity for the multidimensional brand’s statement interiors. Because the fashion label will present twice-yearly collaborations with artists and designers, it was crucial that the space be kept versatile and neutral in terms of decor and color.
Located on one of Shanghai’s principle shopping streets, Huaihai Lu, the IEW.H flagship creates impact both inside and out. A facade of glass and aluminum foam bulkhead creates an otherworldly effect from the outset, hinting at the store’s futuristic interior. Comprising organic-looking bubbles for an almost cellular appearance, the metallic material is backlit to create a glittering effect that is particularly striking at night. Below, a recessed glass entrance is positioned along the smooth convex curve of the store’s exterior. Appearing as a cylindrical object set back from Huaihai Road’s otherwise standardized and flush storefront configuration, the shop immediately draws the attention of passers-by, providing ample space for window displays at the same time.
The strong visual impact continues inside, where elements of the store’s core activities – its display counters, benches and racks – are positioned inside two interlocking rings. Illustrative of a broadly anti-gravity concept that runs throughout this retail design project, the larger of the two rings appears to float above shoppers’ heads. Highly architectural, the polycarbonate structure is fitted with inlaid backlighting. A surrounding tapered stainless-steel band accentuates the spatial compression created by the ring’s deliberate tilt.
The smaller of the two rings tilts up from the floor, its lines extending downwards to create low walls indicating a separate volume. In contrast to the upper ring’s seemingly weightless quality created by its polycarbonate material, the lower is finished in an altogether heavier textural plaster, reinforcing the design’s antigravity theme. Contrast is further introduced by way of two tones of terrazzo tile flooring; as well as gradated wall color from white to cool grey, injecting a sense of movement into the interiors.
IEW.H’s fitting rooms are accessed from the smaller of the two rings. In brand colors of electric blue and silver, the area makes clever use of the 270-degree mirror surfaces in each fitting room to create a kaleidoscopic effect of infinite reflections. This extends to a half-globe light which, thanks to the facility’s reflective ceiling, appears as a floating planet or orb. In an adjacent side room also positioned outside of the interlocking volumes is a silver cashier desk, flanked by soft furnishings in that same deep blue tone.
Opening up possibilities for future events, the space within the interlinked rings remains flexible. Except for a table-height display ledge along the inside edge of the smaller shape, all display elements are freestanding. In keeping with the design themes of the wider retail project, they are curved to match the store’s two main volumes, and in a playful touch, include tie-down straps in a nod to the outer space, anti-gravity theme.
In Shanghai’s already crowded market for high-street fashion, IEW.H sets itself apart through statement interiors. Designed to create a memorable shopping experience, and with inbuilt flexibility, the flagship store presents an imagined future in the heart of this most cutting-edge of cities.