We’ve become accustomed to Japanese design studio Nendo delivering its quirky signature creative take on products and spaces; from a chocolate bar that creates different tastes via diverse textures, to a collective bird-apartment tree house and library-inspired pop-up for Starbucks.
The firm's largest and most ambitious project to date continues the studio’s original approach with a revolutionary new story-telling interpretation of the traditional department store retail experience.
The two-year project has transformed Bangkok’s 18-year-old Siam Discovery department store, now centred around a ‘lifestyle laboratory’ theme that eschews the traditional categorisation of products by brand. Instead, an unconventional open plan ‘Exploratorium’ offers a series of lifestyle experiences around ‘laboratories’ designed to create the sort of comforting, emotional experience lacking in e-commerce.
The renovation of the 40,000 sq m mall also addresses the building’s unusually narrow frontage. Here, Nendo extended and combined numerous existing circular atriums dotted throughout the building to create an airy elongated 58m space.
Frame-shaped boxes with video monitors (202 of them), digital signage and displays of merchandise were installed along one side of the atrium, creating an easy-to-navigate visual directory for the whole store, while escalators were repositioned to run through the atrium, facilitating a smoother flow of visitors.
Meanwhile, the unconventional new double-skinned facade glass is decorated with a pattern that reflects the 'stacked box' atrium installation.
The designers reworked the interiors for all common use areas and most of the self-curated retail spaces, gradating floor and ceiling finishes to give the impression that different materials are stirred together.
‘In this way, we made a point of creating an atmosphere where people can feel relaxed and feel free to approach the stores,’ says Nendo founder Oki Sato.