Retail Focus: Virgile + Partners 'Edgy Designer Department' for Harvey Nichols, UAE

Virgile + Partners’ Edgy Designer department for Harvey Nichols UAE flagship in Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates

Words by Sophie Tolhurst

Virgile + Partners is experienced in the high-end retail sector, having worked with a number of luxury brands and department stores. The practice has worked extensively with Harvey Nichols in both the latter’s Knightsbridge flagship and Birmingham The Mailbox stores, and its latest project, for the ‘Edgy Designer Department’ of Harvey Nichols’ UAE flagship, has been created in line with these earlier UK offerings while capturing the demands of shoppers in Dubai’s renowned Mall of the Emirates.

The 340 sq m space forms the mall entrance for Harvey Nichols, welcoming visitors to the glamorous world of the celebrated department store. The department is devoted to luxury fashion from innovative brands, and the space is arranged into seven different areas around 3D sculptures described as ‘objects of desire’ – aptly named for a space where purchases are rarely driven by practical need.

The fixtures throughout have been designed by Virgile+Partners

The bespoke ‘objects’ made by Virgile + Partners are large, playful, geometric sculptures featuring powdercoated metals with concrete render finishes, timber veneers, tinted glass, crackle glaze tiles and acoustic wood wool board – a smorgasbord of titillating texture. The fixtures throughout the store, also designed by Virgile + Partners, echo these qualities of form and finish across layered displays, racks and shelving, complemented by soft pastel-hued carpets and rugs. Mirrors and lights integrated into the displays are playful as well as practical, while wires and plaster bricks partially screen areas, offering the shopper teasing glimpses of the goods on offer.

Located in the Mall of the Emirates, the interior design for Harvey Nichols ‘aims to break a traditional department store mould’Located in the Mall of the Emirates, the interior design for Harvey Nichols ‘aims to break a traditional department store mould’

A road of pastel green, peach, grey and white marbles links the various zones, with its mirror image reflected in a ceiling of mirror-finish Barrisol, but instead of forming a straight path through the racks, it zig-zags between them, the path perhaps mirroring the spiking pulse of a visitor as they look upon the luxury goods on show.

Carlos Virgile, director, Virgile + Partners, describes Harvey Nichols Dubai as having always been defined by originality and creativity, but as he comments: ‘The new Edgy Designer Department pushes these values even further through the innovation and playfulness present in today’s fashion. The design aims to break a traditional department store mould and move it closer to the character of an inspiring and inventive boutique.’

The textures and forms of the interiors, among clothes of equally diverting design, should hopefully avoid the formality that sometimes mars the luxury shopping experience. 


Virgile + Partners

Harvey Nichols

340 sq m

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