img(height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=2939831959404383&ev=PageView&noscript=1")

Paul Smith shopfront by 6a

Words:
Pamela Buxton

It’s a busy time for Paul Smith. Not only does he have a retrospective at the Design Museum coming up this Autumn, but he’s just opened a new London flagship on Albemarle Street in Mayfair.

6a’s shopfront for the new store is a curiosity in itself, full of diverse resonances and detail. This is nothing like the bland expanse of glass typical of so many a fashion emporium, laying bare its interior to all. Instead, the bespoke cast iron shopfront is more tantalising, recalling the traditional arcades of Mayfair while at the same time suggesting both woven cloth and Op-Art psychedelia in its pattern of overlapping circles. And if you look closely, you’re rewarded by small images of a shoe, a bird and a cat within the swirls, hand drawn by Smith and cast into the facade.

Such attention to detail seems entirely appropriate for a client whose designs are renowned for their craftsmanship, as well as being typical of 6a’s rich approach to composition.
 

According to 6a’s Stephanie Macdonald, the shopfront is deliberately a very specific response to the character of Mayfair, inspired by the plentiful cast iron of its streets – the railings, gratings and lamp-posts.  This very traditional material is given a very big twist, with panels cast in an interlocking pattern that appears, when seen obliquely, almost woven, and transforming the character of the faux-Georgian building. Into this muscular relief are inset curved windows which offer a taste of what’s inside, without revealing the entirety. But all is not as it seems – one of the panels is not iron but a hidden door of stained oak carved to match the pattern of the metal.

As the panels rise above the shopfront, they evolve into a solid balustrade set against the grey-painted brick. The cast iron step, hope the architects, will gradually become polished with use.

The interior – designed in-house – is pleasantly eclectic, full of textures and colour. But the real star of the store design is the shopfront, for being generous enough to enhance the character of the street, rather than just its own brand image.


Hello, My Name is Paul Smith is at the Design Museum from 15 November 2013 – 09 March 2014, Shad Thames, London


 

Latest

Research underpins practice – as celebrated by the RIBA President’s Awards. Counter intuitive as it may sound, this medal-winning investigation advances the cause of ‘good’ microbes and probiotic design

Imagine buildings boosting our immune system

Winner of the RIBA President’s Awards for Research, history & theory, the Global South is the focus of this study of the influence of socialist nations on the architecture and urbanisation of newly decolonised countries

Architecture and urbanism in post-colonial nations

This study by Eli Hatleskog and Flora Samuel, winner of the RIBA President’s Awards for Research – cities and community, investigates how collaborative mapping of social value can help create cohesive, happy communities

Collaboration is key to effective mapping of social value

The race to meet emissions reductions targets by 2030 means construction must now focus on embodied carbon, according to the winner of the RIBA President’s Award for Research – climate change

Whole life carbon must be architects’ priority

Two major schemes rethink as the City of London Centre for Music looks set to lose its concert hall and BDP's rehousing of MPs during Palace of Westminster refurbishment is halted. In another blow to the industry, if not the environment, Taunton rejects a Maggie's centre to save a playing field

Two big schemes get rethought and green space trumps Maggie's