The appeal of a concept store relies just as much on product curation as on interior design, shopping experience, ambience and location, which makes a truly great concept store the alchemical product of creativity, innovation and taste - in other words, something you don’t often come across. We were therefore delighted to discover Banema Studio, a concept store in Lisbon, Portugal, which opened its doors last September in Campo de Ourique, one of the city’s most vibrant and emblematic neighbourhoods, under the auspices of Banema, a Portuguese company specializing in wood products and derivatives. Designed by architect Pedro Campos Costa, the space also hosts Banema Lab, a creative laboratory for architects, interior designers, and other professionals that aims to inform, inspire and stir discussion. Together, the Banema Studio and Lab constitute a multidisciplinary venue where visitors can discover unique brands and products, relax whilst drinking tea and coffee, share ideas, and participate in a variety of events.
Inviting passers-by to step inside, the store’s window display serves as a miniature gallery where a single product, be it a pencil, candle or perfume, is showcased as an artwork, while a comfortable, pastel-hued seating area at the front of the space sets the tone for what can only be defined as a laid-back browsing experience.
The 300 square-metre space features an open-plan configuration that blurs the boundaries between concept store and creative lab, and the result is a vibrant venue that is part showroom, part gallery, part lounge. A series of geometric structures in green melamine and acrylic stone that unfold on the left side of the space function as product displays and checkout counter, as well as demarcate different areas to linger by or sit at. They also provide a pop of colour to the otherwise muted colour palette of brown cement flooring, exposed concrete walls and white ceilings.
On the right side, a stripped-down display that runs the entire length of the space delineates the Lab’s area, while serving as a visual library, showcasing a wide-ranging catalogue of materials for architectural and interior projects. The space can be separated into smaller areas, courtesy of curtains that pick up the green hue of the store’s display structure and add a sense of theatricality, while a large podium at the back can accommodate exhibitions and events.
As expected, at the heart of Banema Studio is an eclectically curated selection of accessories, art, design, fragrances, lighting, lifestyle and furniture, including a collection of objects designed by the architects Álvaro Siza Vieira and Eduardo Souto Moura. But what makes this concept store stand out are the architects, designers and other professionals mingling with the shoppers, and a varied programme of cultural activities curated by Portuguese boutique agency O Apartamento. From workshops and exhibitions, to concerts, and pop-up shops in partnership with other brands like German publisher Gestalten, which took over part of the store in December, the venue aims to never cease to surprise and inspire – in our opinion, nothing less than what a bona fide concept store should aspire to.