The department store of the future just opened its doors. Located at the back of London’s Selfridges, Multiplex is the brainchild of designer Tom Dixon, who gathered an impressive list of friends, companies and colleagues (Wallpaper* included) to present his alternative retail concept.
Dixon took residence at the Old Selfridges Hotel, a disused and derelict venue that he cleverly made over with shiny foil in the style of Andy Warhol’s factory (Dixon admitted owing a huge debt to Warhol for aesthetic inspiration). The department store will be a one-month pop-up covering London’s creative calendar: making its debut with London Fashion Week, it will stay open during London Design Festival and the British Film Festival, closing its doors right after Frieze Art Fair in mid-October.
The store is part immersive installation, part multi-sensory experience, visually inspired by a 1970s adventure playground and a space station, and featuring all the expected store departments, selling design, fashion, beauty and technology, with a food hall curated by Milan-based Arabeschi di Latte. ‘London [retail] history is not much the big international luxury flagships,’ explains Dixon, ‘it is more Kensington Market or Portobello Road, and there is something about that energy that still exists in London, mainly in the East End and in south London. What was amazing was to try to think of something that mixes up the different creative tribes in London. I wanted to do something that has many layers – that’s why we call it Multiplex.’
Over an inception period of eight weeks (although conversations with Selfridges began two years ago), Dixon congregated the diverse family of 30 brands which are now part of this ambitious project. From big-ticket backers Sony and Aston Martin, to independent entities such as natural fragrance company Haeckels and Swedish music technology brand Teenage Engineering, each collaborator brought something intriguing to the conversation, creating a multi-layered network that encompasses art, design, technology and fashion under one dynamic roof. The London/New York-based Spring Studios have also set up a photographic space at the back of the store, available to companies and magazines for photoshoots, while Wallpaper’s own 8,000-year-old oak bar, designed by architect Sally Mackereth for this year’s Wallpaper* Handmade exhibition, will offer Royal Salute whisky tastings throughout the month.
‘Keeping a brand as an island is an old-fashioned concept,’ said Dixon, talking about the vast list of companies collaborating with him on Multiplex, but also alluding to the lauded furniture, lighting and accessories label he launched 12 years ago. ‘The modern world is really about the network, and about how broad and deep that is,’ he continues. ‘Here, we have made a whole network of new and old friends coming from different worlds – how they overlap, how they work together and the new connection they make will make them more powerful.’