The Sydney Modern store by Akin Atelier inspires us to go shopping

The Sydney Modern store by Akin Atelier blends ethereal qualities with colour in a purpose designed shopping hub installation

sydney modern store glowing from inside
(Image credit: Rory Gardiner)

The new Sydney Modern store by Akin Atelier brings a calculated splash of colour to SANAA’s ethereal, minimalist architecture. The retail space, which has now opened to the public, becomes a key shopping hub for Sydney Modern, one of Australia’s key, new cultural destinations. The installation, located in the Entrance Pavilion of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, is an immersive space that blends orange resin surfaces and reflective objects that shape an inviting, luminous design. 

orange structure at sydney modern store

(Image credit: Rory Gardiner)

The Sydney Modern store by Akin Atelier

‘At first glance, this work makes a bold and simple statement. Its purpose is defined and its identity is definite. But with further investigation and understanding, you see its complexity and that it is in harmony with its natural, architectural, and artistic context,' said Kelvin Ho, principal at Akin Atelier, who worked on the project together with studio associate Alexandra Holman. 

Items on shelves inside sydney modern store's orange and reflective interiors

(Image credit: Rory Gardiner)

The scheme establishes a new horizon within the generous, transparent spaces of the SANAA-designed building. The shop’s perimeter is delineated by fluid contours of striated bio-resin wrap. 'Windows' within it allow sightlines to connect the user with the wider architectural context and the city and views beyond. 

installation of shelves and plinths at sydney modern store

(Image credit: Rory Gardiner)

'The site gave us a unique opportunity to break past the “exit through the gift shop” conventions and extend the artistic experience of the gallery into the design of the retail space. Our intention was for the work to clearly express a sense of place in a way that not only preserved but also enriched the cultural and architectural experience of the gallery. These were the ideas that drove both the design and materiality of this project,’ said Holman. 

detail of orange shelving at sydney modern store

(Image credit: Rory Gardiner)

Akin Atelier worked with multidisciplinary designer Hayden Cox to fabricate and apply the bio-resin elements. The bespoke quality of the design shines through – quite literally, as light gently bounces off the polished surfaces. 

sydney modern store seen from outside the building through glass

(Image credit: Rory Gardiner)

'As the principal retail space of the new gallery building committed to contemporary artists, the Gallery Shop by Akin Atelier is both a [store] and a sculptural installation, designed to express the artistic endeavours of the Sydney Modern building and challenge the commercial experience of an archetypal gallery shop,' the architecture team conclude. 

sydney modern store interior

(Image credit: Rory Gardiner) 

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).