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Qpokee, an emerging Chinese retailer catering to young women, recently opened their flagship store in the Taikoo Li shopping centre of Beijing’s Sanlitun locality. Having previously operated a few stores near Joy City in China’s capital with encouraging success, the organisation enlisted local firm CUN Design to create a new space, which would appeal to their target demographic of independent women and girls aged between 16-26. After studying the brand’s operations, online presence, client feedback, and retail structure, the studio imagined an environment that built upon the store’s existing context, adopting a neo-industrial style replete with an abundance of worn exposed concrete surfaces bathed in vibrant hues evoking retro neon.
According to the practice, there were three main factors which prompted this decision, namely: the target demographic, the product design and display aesthetic, and the quality of the existing space they were presented with. The store's context offered both benefits and challenges, due to its central location in Sanlitun, connectivity to the north and south zones of Taikoo Li, and perpetually morphing character due to urban regeneration projects. Spread out over two levels and 500 sqm of floor area, the retail design project is a restrained yet expressive agglomeration of colour and texture, assimilating the store’s original ragged concrete surfaces, combined with Qpokee’s signature red and orange tomato colours, along with a few metallic accents.
CUN Design paid special heed to online feedback about the brand’s product visualisation and display style while creating the store’s three-dimensional circulation. The practice also studied existing stores to determine the scope and essential parameters of their intervention. As stated by the design team in a press release, “We have always believed in the saying ‘You can only know the direction of waves by standing in the water.’ Hence, we turned the problems on site into design goals to solve them!”
Using Qpokee’s brand colours and tomato-themed motifs, CUN Design first fashioned a large display window to enhance the brand’s visibility amid the ever-changing setting of Sanlitun. While the store's first level is spread out over 100 sqm, its low ceiling heights and limited circulation area presented a conundrum for the designers. Furthermore, the bulk of the space’s floor area was concentrated on the upper level, which posed an intriguing situation for the firm to tackle.
According to the interior design scheme they devised, the first floor hosts display areas for toys and beauty products, and the level above showcases Qpokee’s collection of homeware, stationery, and apparel. Aisles of 1200 mm width were designed as the main thoroughfares to accommodate two shoppers at a time, enclosed by wood and black steel plate shelving, accentuated and illuminated by intricately detailed lighting fixtures. To a certain extent, the entire space could be regarded as a combination of an assortment of modules, merging the various aesthetics of the brand’s diverse catalogue with strong emphasis on linearity and geometric forms.
Overhead walkways and voids expand the space on the lower level and forge visual connections between the floors. The main link in the vertical zoning takes the form of a diagonally oriented central staircase, which doubles as a display, supplemented by projecting shelves configured around its landings. Through this element, the designers aimed to introduce potential customers to the larger space above in a more convenient and appealing way. It also resolves issues related to displays, stocking, and spatial enhancement, allowing even the space underneath it to be used for these purposes. Glass railings, reflective surfaces, and a flurry of orange lights contribute to the ‘warm industrial’ style of the design - borrowing from elements of cyberpunk in its ambience and lighting.
Natural wear and tear in the concrete architectural elements and metallic vent system has been incorporated into the design language, contrasted by sleek display areas with bands of strip lighting accents. CUN Design mentions, “We used the style of the entire space to form vision, the structures to assist products, props to complete functions, and lights to elevate the aesthetic.” Keeping this statement in mind, the lighting design is what truly completes the space, with its eclectic selection of traditional fixtures as well as more futuristic and retro elements evoking neon street signs. Reflecting on the success of their endeavour, the design team shares that “after a month of intense design, followed by 50 days of construction, when the Qpokee store finally opened at night, its flow rate and sales data reached a historical peak within just one hour.”
Name: Qpokee Flagship Store
Location: F1 Tongli Building, Sanlitun No. 43 North St., Chaoyang District, Beijing, China
Area: 500 sqm
Year of Completion: 2021
Interior Design: CUN Design
Chief Designer: Cui Shu
Design Team: Hou Longyang, Ma Chuan, Fu Lin, Wang Jizhou
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