Form fit: Selfridges leads the spring charge with Neri & Hu-designed Body Studio
Selfridges is reworking the retail lipstick effect within its new 37,000 sq ft Body Studio, which will see the store’s lowest value apparel make up its largest department.
Designed by Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu of Neri & Hu, the free-flowing third floor concept space that unites women’s leisurewear, lingerie, lounge and sleepwear, swim and hosiery, is a refreshing break from the typical boudoir clichés and comes flooded with natural light.
‘Our primary objective was to create a fresh and vibrant space,’ explains Lyndon Neri, whose studio is based between London and Shanghai. ‘These kinds of spaces are often designed in two extreme spectrums. One being the over rich luxurious “boudoir type” aesthetic and at the opposite end, a strategy of a very utilitarian almost no design “storage like” display is used. We wanted to transform what was a low space into a sanctum for the merchandise that is presented there and for the women who shop the space.’
The architectural duo (named Wallpaper* 2014 Designers of the Year) have also imagined all of the studio’s fixtures, which differentiate each product category, leading from loungewear’s terrazzo walkways and brass detailing to lingerie’s oak and walnut flooring and lacquered paneling. ‘We created a series of rooms with different play of materials responding to the different qualities of the products,’ continues Rossana Hu. ‘A progression of spaces that shift in atmosphere, light and materiality while playing with notions of private and the public; from the intimate and personal to the overt and playful.’
The raw finishes of the swim section, merchandised into Tulum, Mustique and Coachella for S/S 2016, seamlessly merge with the plusher confides of the carpeted tights bar and Fit Studio – manned by dedicated sizing experts. (Not only has Selfridges doubled its lingerie space, it has also beefed up staff by 60 per cent, reinforcing a growth category, which has already seen numbers increase by 300 per cent in the past two years.)
Also in the Body Studio mix are concessions for Agent Provocateur and La Perla, along with a new Daniel Galvin hair salon and the Hemsley sister’s first café concept Hemsley + Hemsley. ‘We’ve taken a layered approach to space with custom furniture and display fixture specifically made for each area,’ adds Hu. ’These blur the boundaries blurred between modern and classical, inside and outside, light and dark, with an overarching architecture outline that ties the Studio as a whole.’
The Body Studio is the latest addition to Selfridges’ five-year, £300 million refit, which includes a grand new entrance on Duke Street that’s currently in the hands of David Chipperfield and slated to open in October of this year.
As Harvey Nichols plans to unveil its new look men’s concept space in Knightsbridge later this week, there is no rest for the department store wars, that are morphing into contemporary design showcases for the viewing pleasure of their customers.