Commissioned to design the first physical store of Chinese jewellery brand BABAMA, located in Xintiandi, Shanghai’s stylish fashion district, Atmosphere Architects created an otherworldly space that not only encapsulate the brand’s industrial-style aesthetic but also embodies the three foundational concepts at its core: nature, machinery, and the heart – the latter as a biological source of life. Straddling the line between literal and metaphorical, the concept store’s interior design immerses customers into the brand’s inner workings offering a portal into its mindset as much as into its heart while providing an innovative, flexible canvas to display BABAMA’s evolving product lines.
At the heart of the store is, well, a heart: an oversized, life-like metallic heart sculpture, complete with artery-like extrusions, placed inside a glass jar as if preserved in formaldehyde. The jar is sandwiched between two pieces of a tree trunk that extend from the floor to the illuminated ceiling. The latter is blanketed by a three-dimensional matrix of wooden and aluminium battens inspired by an ancient Chinese construction technique called ‘dougong’, a series of interlocking brackets supported overhanging roofs. The overall effect is that of a deconstructed tree, with its branches extending across the ceiling. With the heart sculpture at its core, the installation doubles as a symbolic circulatory system “continuously transporting energy for each area” in the designers’ words. At the same time, it reflects the interplay of natural and mechanical systems that lies at the core of the brand’s design philosophy.
The same idea applies to the closed-loop conveyor belt encircling the central installation, another mechanical system that alludes to arteries’ biological role. Functioning as a product display system, it carries the brand’s signature earrings, bracelets and necklaces displayed on round black leather trays. More than a convenient way for customers to browse the product, the conveyor belt delineates a path around the space improving customer flow and enhancing customers’ spatial experience.
Flexibility is also the key concept behind the bespoke display wall system where trays, cabinets and even spotlights can be moved around to accommodate different product types, display concepts, and visual effects. The modular design of the wall display extends to the majority of the store’s components which can be easily dismantled and reinstalled in another setting if required, a true testament to the brand’s commitment to sustainability and sustainable fashion.