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Friday 08 Oct 2010
The LADG has designed a luxury retail space with custom lighting and flexible display fixtures in Frank Gehry's Edgemar Retail Complex in Santa Monica, California. RK Apothecary is a spatially efficient and visually engaging retail space. The product is taken off of the shelves and displayed on a series ‘outré fruit' tables so the customer can physically engage with it before purchase.
Before the redesign, the RK Apothecary space was both small and dense with structural and mechanical elements that could not be altered. The LADG's design had to respond to the existing structural constraints of the interior because the client did not have the financial luxury of gutting the space and beginning fresh, whilst double-height ceilings required hanging lighting fixtures to activate the gaping space.
Square or rectilinear tables were either too big to allow customers to pass easily through the store or too small to accommodate the large number of grouped products in the client's desired arrangement. Given the constraints, The LADG experimented with water filled ice bags - reminiscent of those used by British nurses to sooth the fever of an ailing patient in a 1950′s film. They observed how the bags slumped, folded and wallowed around obstacles. The displays were designed to imitate the posture of ice bags in order to navigate through difficult fits between columns and oddly planned corners.
The pragmatic problems served as a point of entry to design. They drew parallels between the large display ‘pods' and the anatomy of fruit, for example the strawberry; the exterior gives little clue to the structural nature of its interior. By peeking inside the relatively plain skin of the displays, the ‘outré fruit' could reveal a very different, exotic interior.
As this line of thinking matured, the architects looked at still-life paintings by Caravaggio and Rubens. Designers Andrew Holder and Benajmin Freyinger describe their inspiration: "These artists used fruit as sumptuous, scene-setting devices in exactly the way we hoped to deploy our outré fruit to present product in the store. In that sense, the outré fruit is set afloat inside the environment and piled with tempting objects to browse."