Madalina Ramnicianu, Mihai Ciuperca
When design a store, considerable effort must be dedicated to achieving synergy between the objects displayed and the medium that provides the contact with the customer.A successful signature store design is the one that manages to create the environment that’s most suitable to transmit the nature of the object, the effort put in its creation and the identity of the maker.
The handcrafted object takes its value form the singularity of the creative act that gave birth to it.
Our proposal tries to emphasize the viewer’s focus on the objects, by creating a strong contrast with the environment. To achieve this, the background is purged of any interfering texture that would compete with the intrinsic materiality of the objects displayed.
The general light of the store is very dim on the pathways, while being very strong and focused on the displays, further strengthening the contrast to the background. The combined effect of the homogenous background and focused light makes the objects more vibrant and conveys a feeling of uniqueness to each handcraft product. As such, the customer does not immediately perceive the exposition in one glance, but rather experience an intimate approach to each object, as the space gradually unravels itself.
The micro cement finishing was chosen as the general texture of the background as it generates a visual heavy, compact mass that provides a good support to the wide array of shapes, sizes and materials of the objects. The irregular texture of the micro cement replicates the lack of uniformity specific to the handmade objects.
Another aspect we had in mind was a metaphor to the artisan’s workplace. Traditional and Romanian craftsmanship was mostly performed in makeshift sheds, without proper conditions and tools, but yet delivered remarkable art. As so, in order to showcase their craft, we couldn’t envision a shop with glamorous glass displays and velvet covered cushions, but rather a more stern and simple background.
To further pay a tribute to the hard work and talent of the traditional artisan we proposed a pedestal with a scratched and dirty top surface, where there were placed several artisan tools along with ember ashes to emphasize the handmade nature of the products. This pedestal also serves as a showcase, being placed in front of the shop window and substituting for the lack of a proper, larger shop window.
The normal flow of the customer through the space will start with the product presentation and sale area: the jewelry and small accessories on the left/center, home décor objects and kitchen items on the right/center, while further walking will reveal the clothing bags and fashion accessories. At the end of the pathway stands the bar, with the same micro cement finishing as the sale area with the large copper back plate wall behind the bar being the only non- display product texture in the space. The tables are modular in order to accommodate different layouts and the social/meeting area can be expand into the adjacent clothing area, where the pulley actioned clothing rack can be used to pull up the garments and vacate the space.
By using the different lighting setups, the experience of the space can be manipulated in order to accommodate different environments. For instance, a gallery atmosphere can be achieved by turning off the general lighting (the recessed ceiling spots) and keeping only the adjustable track-mounted spots, but otherwise turning all the lights on in case of workshops.