by Zohra KhanSep 27, 2019
Hailed for her carbon neutral runway designs and using subtle colour palettes, designer Gabriela Hearst approaches sustainability with blazing earnest. The eponymous global fashion brand displays unwavering loyalty towards the environment, in its methods and materiality. Her commitment to environment-friendly products is apparent in her incorporation of using bio-based alternatives in her designs, utilising leftover materials, producing carbon neutral shows, and so on.
Reputed as an ecological fashion maven, Hearst is known for practising green design and fusing luxury with it, in her clothing and accessory range. The New York-based fashion label’s first London store, in Mayfair neighbourhood, has been designed by architectural titan Foster + Partners, and repeats this ethos credibly in its operation and aesthetics.
The two-storey store (approximate 2000 sqm) occupies an eminent site in the heart of London’s West End at 59 Brook Street. The store contains women’s and men’s accessories, as well as jewellery collections. The lower level of the store also has a seating area to host private clients.
A peek inside the London store
With clothing and accessories as principal protagonists, the store’s interior spaces are designed to flow effortlessly, creating a relaxed setting. Hearst collaborated with Foster + Partners for the interior of the London store, with its design resembling their first outlet in New York. For new outlet, the fixtures are done in similar blond wood, marble, ivory leather and cashmere wool. Hearst deems that in nature there are no rectangular, sharp edges and therefore, the rectangular table corners, the hanging units and even the ceiling mouldings in the store have been rounded.
The store’s windows do not display mannequins or products, to preserve the transparency and clarity of the interiors. Inside the store, the spaces are streamlined into two distinct settings – a section for clothing, which contains bespoke racks and a cosy lounge seating, and the other features knitwear and accessories.
The store’s basement holds a more intimate lounge area, complete with changing rooms and supplementary display spaces, covered in London Plane timber panelling. The aesthetic can be defined as neutral but not bland, with its usage of subdued whites and shades of coffee brown.
Weaving together material and sustainability
The materials palette in the store’s design incorporates sustainably sourced or recycled elements and avoids the use of harmful chemicals in their production throughout.
The herringbone oak parquet flooring is reclaimed from a former officer’s mess hall, in the military barracks in Shropshire, which was demolished earlier. Each piece was salvaged, cleaned, painted and placed manually. Most of the custom wooden furniture is fashioned from London Plane (a type of tree) timber sourced from a tree that fell during a recent storm in Lincoln. Automatic dimmers are also installed in the shop, which consume less energy. The leather employed has been tanned with non-toxic vegetable dyes, while linen, which has low embodied energy, has been used in the fabric wall panelling of the store.
Foster + Partners have also designed the coffee table, clothes rails, knitwear cabinet and shelving units, which are manufactured by Benchmark. These feature integrated LED lighting and are highlighted with rose gold edging, a signature colour of Hearst. The soft curves and rounded edges of the store’s furniture offer warmth to the place, imbibing the comfort and relaxed aesthetic of the rest of the store.
I was inspired by Gabriela’s tireless commitment to sustainability, which fits perfectly with our own enthusiasm for design that demonstrates concern for the environment. The store echoes this approach by using local and recycled materials, to create an inviting experience for customers. – Norman Foster, Founder and Executive Chairman, Foster + Partners
Hearst’s first international flagship and second retail store by the British architectural and design firm has been built without using any new materials. Dictated by sustainability, the boutique’s design and Hearst’s collection values uncompromising care for the environment, along with championing subtlety coupled with luxury design.