In two retail projects, interior design in one and lighting in the other have been used to great effect to focus attention on what matters to the consumer – the product. Jamie Mitchell reports
Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world, said Marilyn Monroe. And if a girl (or boy for that matter) can't find world-conquering shoes in the vast level Shoe District of the new Dubai Mall, they might as well give up.
Designed by London and Singapore-based Interior architect Shed, this 9,000 sq m retail space is a shoe-lover's paradise, housing 40 designer 'boutiques' including Prada, Gucci and Louis Vuitton, alongside several multibrand 'pavilions'. The sheer size of the space could easily have been overwhelming to shoppers, so Shed's design breaks it down into four distinct multibrand areas - Women's Designer, Contemporary, Men's and Trend - each with its own look and feel.
For the Women's Designer section, Shed created a shopping experience fit for Marilyn Monroe (or indeed Sex in the City shoe queen Carrie Bradshaw) with vaulted brass arches, gold birdcages and marble and copper plinths.
There's also a VIP area for those want to shop in privacy. Here, shoppers relax on high-back chairs on deep-pile rugs in floral patterns, while shoes are brought to them to try on. The space is decorated in bespoke Giles Miller ceramics, hand -crafted in Italy.
Contrasting with the 'delicate feminine luxury' of the Women's Designer section, 'Contemporary' is described by Shed as a 'deliberately heavy piece of micro-architecture'. Clad in oiled metal panels, this section has shoes displayed on individually illuminated drop rods. The dark, cavernous space is offset by an avant-garde coral ceiling dome. This huge centrepiece - an imposing yet delicately hung piece the scale of which has not been seen before in retail - used specialist boat-building technologies in its creation.
Perhaps the most dramatically designed space, the Trend section has a backdrop of marble mountains and huge copper nuggets. Looking like it has been chiselled from a quarry, the marble rises several metres to form backdrops for Technicolor product walls. 'In complete contrast to the traditional surroundings, this futuristic environment hosts the most sought-after and ultra-cool brands,' says Shed.
Trend is also the venue for DJ events and exclusive showcases from the world's most innovative and hip brands. Trend will undoubtedly become a magnet for the most avid followers of cool culture.
There's no denying that a shoe emporium like this is, primarily, a woman's world, but men are not forgotten with a strong masculine area of their own, including its own VIP area. Here, a design palette of crystal-clear glass and grey fumed oak, creates a sophisticated masculine space.