CUN Design evokes a ‘warm industrial’ style at Qpokee’s flagship store in Beijing

Located in the lively Sanlitun commercial area of China’s capital, this retail space employs worn concrete and vibrant lighting to craft an attractive setting for customers.

by Jerry ElengicalPublished on : Jan 10, 2022

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.

  • Axonometric View of Layout | Qpokee Flagship Store in Sanlitun | CUN Design | STIRworld
    Axonometric View of Layout Image: Courtesy of CUN Design
  • CUN Design first created a large display window with Qpokee’s colours and emblem to enhance the store’s visibility | Qpokee Flagship Store in Sanlitun | CUN Design | STIRworld
    CUN Design first created a large display window with Qpokee’s colours and emblem to enhance the store’s visibility Image: Shuangshuang

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.

The practice paid special attention to the brand’s product design and display aesthetic while developing the retail space | Qpokee Flagship Store in Sanlitun | CUN Design | STIRworld
The practice paid special attention to the brand’s product design and display aesthetic while developing the retail space Image: Wu qingshan

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!”

  • Voids in the upper floor expand the spatial perception of the lower level | Qpokee Flagship Store in Sanlitun | CUN Design | STIRworld
    Voids in the upper floor expand the spatial perception of the lower level Image: Wu qingshan
  • Warm lighting ties the spaces together as a staple feature of the design | Qpokee Flagship Store in Sanlitun | CUN Design | STIRworld
    Warm lighting ties the spaces together as a staple feature of the design Image: Wu qingshan

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.

  • Strip lights and sleek wooden shelves balance the industrial aesthetic of exposed concrete | Qpokee Flagship Store in Sanlitun | CUN Design | STIRworld
    Strip lights and sleek wooden shelves balance the industrial aesthetic of exposed concrete Image: Wu qingshan
  • The original concrete structure was incorporated into the design and forms a defining part of the store’s aesthetic | Qpokee Flagship Store in Sanlitun | CUN Design | STIRworld
    The original concrete structure was incorporated into the design and forms a defining part of the store’s aesthetic Image: Wu qingshan
  • The worn metal pipes and concrete columns and beams add to the ‘warm industrial’ style of the design | Qpokee Flagship Store in Sanlitun | CUN Design | STIRworld
    The worn metal pipes and concrete columns and beams add to the ‘warm industrial’ style of the design Image: Wu qingshan

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.

  • An angled staircase forms the main link between floors in the vertical zoning | Qpokee Flagship Store in Sanlitun | CUN Design | STIRworld
    An angled staircase forms the main link between floors in the vertical zoning Image: Wu qingshan
  • The designers placed the staircase at the store’s heart to provide an appealing transition to the more expansive upper floor | Qpokee Flagship Store in Sanlitun | CUN Design | STIRworld
    The designers placed the staircase at the store’s heart to provide an appealing transition to the more expansive upper floor Image: Wu qingshan
  • It also doubles as a display and storage area | Qpokee Flagship Store in Sanlitun | CUN Design | STIRworld
    It also doubles as a display and storage area Image: Wu qingshan

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.

  • Mirrored surfaces aid in expanding the space and complementing the lighting design | Qpokee Flagship Store in Sanlitun | CUN Design | STIRworld
    Mirrored surfaces aid in expanding the space and complementing the lighting design Image: Shuangshuang
  • The lighting design is what truly completes the space, with futuristic and retro elements that elevate the design | Qpokee Flagship Store in Sanlitun | CUN Design | STIRworld
    The lighting design is what truly completes the space, with futuristic and retro elements that elevate the design Image: Shuangshuang

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.”

01 min watch Video of Qpokee Flagship Store in Sanlitun by CUN Design | Qpokee Flagship Store in Sanlitun | CUN Design | STIRworld
Video of Qpokee Flagship Store in Sanlitun by CUN Design Video: Courtesy of CUN Design

Project Details

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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