As development of transport, trade and modern technology,

As the interior design industry is
constantly in shift, we see more innovative and modern designs surrounding us
every day. To be innovative
means altering something to make it better, this could be to modernise for the
current generation or to meet new requirements. Oxford dictionary defines an
innovative product, idea or design as ‘featuring new methods; advanced and original.’. Other than being innovative, retail spaces must provide
a desirable and exciting spacial experience to their customers who enter the space
each day whilst ensuring the requirements of the businesses brand, identity, ethics
and aspirations are strongly addressed. The interior of shops is in continuous alteration,
retail spaces are updated regularly to stay appealing and modern. This is due
to following current trends and consumer aspirations with the aim to be distinctive
to competitors with some of the most innovative and interactive interiors are
found in retail.

 

This essay will explore
how three different retail shops within London have creatively combined
material, technology, structure and space to create individual and sophisticated
retail spaces which are appropriate for both the customer and the retailer whilst
also functioning appropriately for every day public use. Each shop that will be
discussed in this essay have been designed very differently from one another,
all describing to their own individual brand through the shop space they
inhabit. These shops are; The Victoria and Albert museum gift shop, Aesop; a
skincare brand and the Regent Street branch of the Apple Store.

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In today’s society,
technology has advanced significantly due to the industrial revolution that occurred in the
late 18th century. Since then, sudden improvements bought us many immense
changes in development of transport, trade and modern technology, thus enabling
innovation of new materials and manufacturing processes. This includes the development
of superior steel, cast iron and glass. Stephen Emmitt
identifies that ‘Before the Industrial Revolution the designer’s choice
of materials was largely limited to locally sourced materials. The principal
structural materials were stone, brick and timber, with organic materials such
as reeds used for finishes’.’ (2012, p.1) The new age of technology allowed these
new materials to be mass produced and the new improved transport infrastructure
allowed them to be transferred around the world opening new doors for design
and lead to the Modern Architecture Movement. Similarly, in our most current
era we see the digital revolutions influence on design and how it allows architects to develop innovative
concepts that would not have been possible in the past. ‘The digital revolution
has brought about rapid advances in manufacturing possibilities and narrowed
the gulf between the design and the realisation of buildings.’. (S. Emmitt, 2012,
pg.2)

 

A recently redesigned shop
which has taken full advantage of both modern and digital technology which is accessible
to us today, is the Victoria and Albert museum gift shop located inside the 19th
century museum in Knightsbridge, London. The redevelopment opened in May 2017
and was undertaken by London based architectural practice, Friend and Company, who
won an international competition for the redevelopment of the shop in 2016. The
designers took influence from the very first museum
shop inside the Victoria and Albert museum that which functioned as a showcase for contemporary crafts
from 1863 onward.

 

The space was fabricated using
a range of digital craft processes which is something that Friend and Company
were fascinated by, which they refer to as ‘robotic craft’. The processes
include digital fabrication techniques, including 3D-printed
ceramics, laser cutting, CNC routing and water-jet cutting. “We are fascinated with how architecture is made
and through our work try to take control of the socio-economic tools of
production to push the envelope of possibilities through owning, influencing
and ultimately showcasing in the final design the industrial processes of
manufacturing.” Explains Adrian Friend. (A. Friend, dezeen). Every material featured within the design
has been digitally manufactured before being assembled and finished off by
hand.

 

The interior structure is made up of two pavilions
placed within the 465 square-meters of space where the shop has always been
located, just beyond the museums entrance. As the shop is at the centre of the
museum, it had to accommodate for visitors to pass through to the rest of the exhibition
spaces. This is what lead the design team to the idea of using two pavilions,
to display products within them whilst creating well-defined routes through the
space to the other side. The first pavilion is called the ‘Jewellery pavilion’
which is a display for all jewellery collections, this pavilion is made up of four
steel columns called weldments, these weldments have then been laser-cut,
welded and finished with a zinc spray. The second pavilion is called the ‘Pocket
Workshop’ which is a demonstration space for crafts, displaying a rotation of different
material focus. The structure compromises of timber shelves of which water jet
cut glass are slotted into giving the illusion of floating on structural air. 

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