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Every passer-by on Sukhumvit 49 road will notice the Norse Republics store, which imports Scandinavian-style furnishings from several leading brands. It had been renovated and rebranded as a new Norse Store, with a more readily accessible lifestyle to home lovers in a space of 500 square meters, developed by expert Taste Space designers to fit customers’ demands and provide a different shopping experience.
Unfinished space awaiting to be finished by the furniture.
With a diverse range of furniture brands such as HAY, Fritz Hansen, Vitra, Gubi, Artek, and many others, each of which has a unique character, how can we bring all of these brands together? This question led to the mutual conclusion that the owner and the designers agreed that the overall space that displays these furniture items will have an unfinished, raw, and not necessarily perfectly neat like new design, to make ‘this space look unfinished but be more finished by adding these furniture items.’
The next challenge was to design the store as a window display to expose the view to the outside and make people feel welcome and quickly understand that inside is a furniture store waiting for everyone to come and explore. Furthermore, the inside space must be adaptable and ready to be readily adjusted in the future.
Unboxing the Furniture
The designer puts these two key considerations together to generate an idea that considers the fact that ” upon shipping any furniture, all brands supply their items in a packaging to prevent damage. Therefore, I opted for the Unboxing concept. The exterior façade is created as a Window Display, which resembles the opening of boxes that are arranged together. The interior is straightforward. I divided the space based on usage and gradually developed each zone’s distinct characters.”
The unboxing concept makes it easier and more enjoyable to see the product by having both the opened box and the closed box. The concept turned into Solid-Void in which some portions are opened as glass panes, allowing customers to see items within. The external form is in black to highlight the within. The façade is made of aluminum composite because it is a lightweight outdoor material that is strong, durable, and formable.
“Initially, I’d like to divide the area by the brand. However, once they are divided, it is difficult to keep them together. So, I adopt a No Boundary space arrangement, which means that every room can be any room. Every zone is a common area that may alter depending on the different characteristics of each brand. Furniture may be overlooked if I focus on making the room stand out. As a result, I minimized the environmental concern as much as feasible. So that the remainder of the furniture stands out.”
Upon opening the door to the inside, the ground floor zone is organized to be the area for the HAY brand, which offers more fun lifestyle products, making it easier for visitors to shop. A stylish welcome desk in the heart of the store is constructed in the style of a relaxed, casual, semi-casual café, where wood is used as a material in the back to express a serene and simple Scandinavian vibe whilst contrasting with the counter designed with small white tiles playing with the green grout to give it a more youthful and raw appearance.
Next to the right, the design team lifted a portion of the floor from the original retail space, which has a second story along the line, to open it through to the 2nd-floor ceiling, allowing customers to feel the openness. It differs from the area in front of the door, which has a low ceiling to make the most of the second-floor space. In this zone, there are also tall and huge shelves to exhibit various adorable HAY items. Adjacent to the area is a staircase leading to the second floor. The openness of this space also allows customers in the store to view the steps easily which encourages them to stroll up to the second floor.
Turning left from the stairs leads to a spacious corridor that feels like a space in a modern home. However, all of the raw finishes from the building’s early days, such as the columns with scribbles and puncture marks, were retained. The designer adds a steel grille to the ceiling and strip lights to create a raw, modern vibe and to conceal all electrical wiring systems. But, returning to the original issue, what type of Unfinished will go best with certain objects? This leads to the selection of light walls and the use of old materials, such as repainting bricks, or a design that incorporates gimmicks, such as using raw materials commonly used in the construction of temporary buildings, such as galvanized steel, to create a lamp display zone and various decorations that reflect light well.
A split-level area adjacent to it was originally in the building but has been renovated into a wood-based mood and tone to be utilized as a venue to promote more luxury and homely brands.
On the right-hand side of the staircase, the space is divided into sections that resemble a gallery which can be transformed into others to suit future usage needs. The ceiling of this area is entirely made of steel, making it easier to hang artwork in the future.
“How can I incorporate all items together? I found it very challenging. What I enjoy the most is the diversity and stark contrast. I design each location to be slightly different so that the store does not appear too monotonous which I think is a mellow fit.
How could I provide the greatest possible experience for the customers? For example, the products on the first level are tangible and simple to purchase. However, on the second floor, I create a homey ambiance with larger items, allowing visitors to sit and experience them. As the products are expensive, allowing customers to take their time to experience them is important. This is the business model that the project owner and I agreed on. People are often afraid to try because they believe the furniture is too expensive, but here we create every ambiance, including space, to invite and encourage more people to experience those items,” the designer concluded.