Carved into the high street

Holts design takes inspiration from the gemstones it sells

by James Forryan 05 November 2009
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    Holts is an old established stone cutting business in London’s Hatton Garden; well respected in this tightly-knit jewellery community. Attached to the shop is the Holts Academy with training facilities for apprentices of the trade.

    Branding agency Large Smith Walford re-launched the business with the phrase 'From Rock to Ring'. It inspired our design, which presents the shop in a radically new look. Passing customers are greeted by a window display that resembles the fissure in a rock containing precious stones. Designed as an abstraction it starkly frames an array of petals that appear to be floating in a cave bathed in bright warm light and beautifully presenting a wide selection of gems.

    To overcome the planning conditions which require shop fronts in the Hatton Garden Conservation Area to extend from pavement level to the shop ceiling, the sculpted rock fissure is set against a full height sheet of plate glass. This arrangement not only removes the conceptual design from planning concerns but more importantly, it heightens the abstraction of the theme and focuses on the display. In addition to the visual effect, the polished glass requires little maintenance.

    We decided to depart from the usual island displays inside jewellery shops. Instead we designed a concentric layout that resembles a trading floor with a rainbow spectrum of stones laid out on radial shelves. The glass-fronted cabinets form the counter and provide a rich offering of gems on tilted trays that make for effortless viewing. By placing the customers in the centre, staff can direct them easily to the ware of their choice. The counter provides an unobtrusive barrier that allows staff to leave the unsecured back of the cabinets unattended. The interior is kept in hues of white and grey, letting the coloured stones tell the story.

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