by Vatsala SethiDec 30, 2022
Nestled amidst bustling streets and near two subway exits in Shanghai's dynamic Huangpu district, 'BABAMA –The Pulsating Heart' emerges as a living embodiment of individuality and self-expression. The brainchild of ATMOSPHERE Architects, this space not only commands attention with its abundant customer flow but also encapsulates the essence of the BABAMA brand. From the rhythmic beats of the mechanical heart installation to the arteries of artistic expression, this exploration reveals how the nature of the human circulatory system is woven into the very fabric of the store. STIR takes a closer look at this retail space, where every twist and turn leads us to a new facet of creative storytelling.
The Heartbeat of BABAMA
At the nucleus of this store lies the “pumping heart”, a concept deeply inspired by the human circulatory system. The mechanical art installation inside the space becomes a visual focal point that offers a tangible representation of a pulsating spirit, symbolising the core of the BABAMA brand. The space is meticulously crafted to mirror the biological system creating an innovative layout that channels energy seamlessly throughout. The heart motif also extends to include other circulatory system-inspired design elements, such as the branching structure that mimics a network of arteries.
"The inspiration behind the design of the BABAMA Concept store is a fusion of elements that encompass the brand's journey, values, and its evolution since its establishment in 2011. The design draws upon the concept of the heart as the central motif, representing vitality, energy, and growth—key attributes that have come to define BABAMA's brand spirit,” mention ATMOSPHERE Architects to STIR.
Crafting the Circulatory System
Intricately weaving together nature, machinery, and the heart, BABAMA’s innovation fosters a symbiotic relationship between these elements. Drawing inspiration from traditional industrial aesthetics, the design harmoniously integrates the natural world and mechanical precision. A majestic tree-like structure crowns the central installation. Its branches stretch towards the ceiling, as if absorbing the energy, exuded by the heart. The juxtaposition of aluminium and wood softens the space’s mechanical allure, forging a union between industry and nature.
The Innovative Dougong Influence
One of the most intriguing features of the space is the bucket arch, also known as "Dougong", a distinctive component of Chinese architecture. It was generally used between the columns and roofs of large buildings in ancient China as a transitional part and found in monumental and important buildings. Reimagined and revitalised, Dougong’s cultural essence breathes life into the space, exemplifying a harmonious blend of metal and wood. The arrayed patterns on the ceiling enhance the space’s identity and interconnectedness, evoking a sense of continuity that transcends time.
Sustainability in Design
Sustainability is one of the most important issues for humanity. Amidst mechanised marvels, the designers at ATMOSPHERE Architects make this the driving force in BABAMA’s architectural narrative. The modular design defies convention, enabling the transformation of fixed structures into adaptable components. The careful interplay of materials, including metal, glass, and circular mirrors, accommodates the needs of visitors, creating an organic shopping experience.
Each facet of the space is designed to accommodate the brand’s evolving product lines, embracing flexibility and creativity to enrich the future of retail store design. Under this "wall system", each tray, cabinet, and even spotlight can be flexibly moved, combined and disassembled according to the actual product size, display needs and visual focus.
A Journey through Motion
As visitors traverse the space, they are led on a journey that reflects the flow of life itself. The vertical presentation of the display area, accompanied by a captivating conveyor belt, mirrors the mechanics of circulation. This interactive installation showcases the brand’s iconic items on circular trays, emphasising texture and material. As they are placed one by one along the curved channel, the black leather tray highlights and restores the texture of metal and gemstone, promising an immersive shopping experience, guided by the rhythm of the heart.
This kind of display mode can fit the brand's multi-series product lines and future development trends. It also ensures that customers entering the shop are guided through the planning of the movement to maximise their experience from the space and the reach of the products.
The Fluid Transition
Within the evolving canvas, the boundary between function and form is artfully dissolved. The cashier area becomes a seamless extension of the space, transcending conventional limits through flexible partitions. The architects create a channel that belongs to the external and internal connections of the space so that they can achieve mutual integration while maintaining independent functions. This design philosophy engenders an integrative space, reflecting the brand’s ethos of continuous growth and innovation.
Speaking to STIR on the overall experience, the architects explain, “The design of the concept store is a testament to the brand's journey from its inception to the present day. It embodies the core values of vitality, growth, and innovation that have driven BABAMA's evolution, while the thoughtful integration of various elements pays homage to its heritage and showcases its readiness for the future”.
'BABAMA - The Pulsating Heart' by ATMOSPHERE Architects channels creativity, inspiration, and self-expression. This concept store functions not only as a retail space but as a haven for those who seek self-exploration. Through its thoughtfully curated displays and interactive installations, the store becomes a canvas for visitors to express themselves and engage with their surroundings.
Name: BABAMA Concept Store
Location: Shanghai, China
Area: 108 ㎡
Completion Time: March 2023
Design Firm: ATMOSPHERE Architects
Chief Designer: Tommy Yu
Collaborative Design: Aubrey Liu.Valo Xiao.
Animation Design: ViVi Lee
Prop Installation: ATMOSPHERE Architects
Lighting Solution: ArtLuci x Owen
General Contractor: Shanghai Yimuhe Construction Engineering Co., Ltd.