‘In a week, a window installation on London’s Regent Street will gain more exposure than in an issue of Vogue,’ I’m told at an early morning film shoot at Topshop last Tuesday. A prime opportunity for any design studio.
Located in London’s famed West End, Regent Street blends high street stores such as Mango and Zara with luxury brands like Burberry and Omega. Every year the Royal Institute of British Architects selects a handful of cutting edge design studios to partner with stores on Regent Street for a series of large-scale installations representing the brand’s aesthetic.
This year the partnerships were: Topshop and NEON; Karen Millen and Mamou-Mani; Jack Spade and Carl Turner Architects; Ferrari store and Gensler; Esprit and naganJohnson; and Moss Bros and AY Architects. For the first time in this expressive annual initiative, WAN joined the architects on their journey to uncover why partnerships like this are so important for London and the architecture industry.
NEON at Topshop
Young architecture studio NEON is the creative genius behind projects such as the Centipede Cinema in Guimaraes and the Bang & Olufsen PLAY House in London led bold design duo Mark Nixon and George King. The team’s installation at Topshop is an appropriately vivid wheel of mannequins dressed in the store’s S/S styles and has been stopping shoppers in their tracks since its installation last week.
Mamou-Mani at Karen Millen
‘The Magic Garden’ branches across all eight windows in Karen Millen’s Regent Street store, twisting and swirling its way through perfectly choreographed mannequins. A light-diffusing polyamide mesh fabric was selected by Arthur Mamou-Mani and his team to create an illuminated scene which draws passers-by into the store like Alice down the rabbit hole. At the time of going to press, Mamou-Mani’s installation was winning a ‘Vote for your favourite’ poll on the Regent Street Facebook page with an impressive 63% of the votes.
Carl Turner Architects at Jack Spade
With its American roots, the Jack Spade brand store on Brewer Street (just off Regent Street) is a hive of knick knacks and magazine cut outs interspersed with crisp shirts and oversized totes. Carl Turner and his self-titled practice have taken this Americana as inspiration and expanded on the window installation brief with a strip of vinyl which travels up the façade of the store to give it a New York vibe.
Gensler at Ferrari Store
Probably the most established of the six practices involved, Gensler have been partnered with Ferrari to create an installation that captures the adrenaline rush experienced when one drives a luxury car. The ‘organic representation’ is a light and sound show that faces out onto the street but can be heard from within as a beating heart that resonates throughout the store. We spoke to Jon Tollitt from Gensler to find out more.
naganJohnson at Esprit
naganJohnson’s piece for Esprit takes a rather different tack than its neighbours being located in a two-storey void within the store. Similar to the Jack Spade intervention, naganJohnson has taken inspiration from Esprit’s roots in California and inserted reels of wooden fencing that extend upwards through a void between floors in a dramatic beach scene. Dubbed the ‘California Wave’, we saw a number of excited tourists posing for photos underneath its arcing swells.
AY Architects at Moss Bros
Last but by no means least is AY Architects’ installation for Moss Bros. Lead architect Anthony Boulanger told us how the team was inspired by the traditional herringbone pattern that inspires many Moss Bros suits, leading AY Architects to create a 3D screen which casts shadows back across the store floor.
Text by Sian Disson
Filming by Jim Stephenson, Edward Bishop and Steven Carr; Editing by James Forryan.