|Project Name||FÜEL||Posted in||Design, Interior Design||Location||
|Interior Designer||Studiomateriality||Area (sqm)||480||Completed||September 2022|
With online shopping being the default retail mode, physical stores have had to evolve into multi-layered social spaces focusing on the overall experience rather than pushing for sales and engaging with customers to foster a sense of community and promote brand awareness – which is of course, easier said than done. Located in downtown Athens, Greece, the new flagship store of fashion-forward sportswear and streetwear online retailer FÜEL ticks all the right boxes. Unfolding across 480 square metres on two levels, the space was conceived as a meeting place for the brand’s progressive clientele of Greek street fashion enthusiasts. Athens-based interior, graphic and product design studio Studiomateriality have applied a hip, urban-industrial aesthetic whose unfiltered rawness is complemented by bespoke furnishings, design objects and artworks that whimsically channel the punk and hip-hop culture of the 1980s and 1990s while a series of technological elements further enhances the in-store experience. Designed with versatility in mind, the space can easily morph from a concept store to an exhibition venue to event hosting, functioning as a vibrant destination for the local street fashion community.
Located in “Megaron Pallados”, a monumental commercial building erected in the early 1950s, the store’s design “unpeels” the edifice’s stately exterior to reveal the raw state of the building shell. Exposed concrete beams, steel trusses and un-plastered drywalls are paired with visible pipes, ducts and cable trays running across the ceiling, along with a series of custom-made furnishings made from basic construction materials such as metal pipes, bricks and fibre boards. The result is a dynamic space full of quirky surprises, creative highlights and a youthful, somewhat rebellious spirit that encapsulates FÜEL’s street fashion image.
What the DIY-like furnishings may lack in sophistication, they more than make up for in craftsmanship, playfulness and versatility, as well as sustainability as the store’s construction entailed the minimal use of plastics and other non-recyclable materials. Examples include a monumental faux-granite double-sided sofa that seems to have been hoisted there by a crane, tables consisting of two giant speakers supporting a marble slab, counters made of stacked bricks, and a modular display system of white-painted pipes that can be re-assembled in infinite configurations and shapes.
The store’s industrial sensibility is further reinforced by the changing rooms located on the lower level and the adjacent storage area for footwear, the former designed as a garden shed and clad in corrugated aluminium sheets, the latter delineated by a chain link fence, a nod to the outdoor sports courts scattered all over Athens’ neighbourhoods. Resembling high security fencing, the setting purposefully gives the impression of storing valuable merchandise and for good reason – FÜEL is known for carrying collectible sneakers and limited-edition collaborations by brands like NIKE, Adidas and New Balance, oftentimes exclusively for the Greek market.
In juxtaposition to the predominant urban-industrial aesthetic, a series of mirrored surfaces, digital displays and LCD touchscreens, which customers can use for in-store and online purchases in line with the brand’s technology-driven ethos, inject the space with an air of modernity and a sense of wonder while a number of collectible design items, most notably a large collection of Bearbricks, the iconic bear-like toy figurines from Japan, and a collection of framed illustrations and artworks, including a reproduction of Rembrandt’s The Night Watch hanging over the main counter, add charm, character and style.
It’s a testament to Studiomateriality’s design acumen and FÜEL’s keen sense of curation that despite the plethora of visual stimulants and showcase niches, the store feels neither overpowering nor cluttered. On the contrary, it offers a gradually unfolding experience that allows customers to explore the space at their own pace. With regular layout changes and frequent product themed projects and in-store exhibitions and events, one thing is for sure, there’s always plenty of things to discover at FÜEL’s flagship store.