Monday 19 Sep 2011
Respect for a chapel as monument: Interior concept & retail design of a flagship store.
The ‘Wolweverskapel' in Ghent, a protected monument that, in 2002, underwent a thorough conversion to preserve the building. A palette of ochre and cream now reinforces the patina of the high slender columns and chapel walls. When entering the building, one's attention is immediately drawn upwards to the original wooden truss, which still displays all the grandeur of honest craftsmanship. Respect for the chapel as a monument was the point of departure for the whole project. The shop had to radiate class.
Transparent, minimalist and timeless were the three major qualities introduced to ensure complete integration of the concept. The fusion of the old chapel and the new refined design would emphasize the qualities of both. The interior layout is based upon a simple principle: a central area with circulation around it, a reference to the traditional layout of a church, with its central nave and two aisles. A painted steel structure - partially covered with leather strips to protect the intimacy required for the women's collection - was designed for the central area to help rebalance the disproportion between the shop design and the chapel.
The existing white painted concrete floor is covered with a herringbone walnut parquet. Beneath the painted steel structure, the middle section has a hazelnut tint, fitting in perfectly with the surrounding walnut and the rest of the colour palette. The use of materials for cupboards, mid-units and cash register is simple and refined: a combination of metal and glass. The use of clear and smoked glass echoes the alternating ochre and dark brown of the painted metal. The newly designed furniture is combined with some antique showpieces, adding a touch of finesse that stresses the craftsmanship with which the chapel was erected.