MNMA studio seeks a brutalist approach for this beachwear boutique in Brazil
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MNMA studio seeks a brutalist approach for this beachwear boutique in Brazil

Earthy tones and primitive forms effortlessly convey the language of HAIGHT, a Brazilian beachwear label’s boutique store designed by MNMA studio.

by Zohra Khan Aug 20, 2019

In the seaside suburb of Leblon, Rio de Janeiro, MNMA Studio has designed a stunning boutique for the Brazilian beachwear label, HAIGHT. The design complies with the language of the brand that stands apart for its aesthetics, which are marked by clean lines, unexpected shapes and block colours. Located on the ground floor of a residential high rise building, the 80 sqm store is painted in a palette of earthy hues and brutalist primitive forms. The Sao Paolo-based studio, led by architects André Papato and Mariana Schmidt, said the initial brief by the client demanded that the place be rendered a 'destination', and not merely a store.

Front façade of HAIGHT store| HAIGHT Store | MNMA studio | STIR
Front façade of HAIGHT store Image Credit: Fran Parente

Interestingly, the designers have created a unity between the inside and outside spaces by rebuilding both the sidewalk and the façade in stone. While creating a seamless transition for people entering the store, this intervention was to, “configure the commonplace for the brand and their customers to relate to each other,” say Papato and Schmidt.

Integrated within the walls are two glazed openings - a twin door on the left and a glass wall on the right - revealing glimpses of the sand-soaked interiors. Once inside, the volume is segregated in two levels - the lower being the display section, and a small mezzanine floor provided for dressing.

A drawing showing the two levels (display and dressing) within the interior |  HAIGHT Store | MNMA studio | STIR
A drawing showing the two levels (display and dressing) within the interior Image Credit: Courtesy of MNMA studio

The designers referred to this mezzanine as the ‘subtle second floor’ of the project, which is also the most striking component of the design. This level has been designed in response to a structural challenge as a large column in the middle of the space was obstructing the open plan. The studio adopted this column as a source of ‘positive subversion’ by forming a glass box around it to make it appear lightly hovering in the air. Projected on a new slab, this level can be accessed via a series of concrete stairs.

“We created this floating intermediary platform as a dressing room, above the original level, to create a strong and playful user experience. From that the whole design is arranged, locating the wet areas and storage places behind, and the display room surrounding it,” explain the designers.

  • A series of concrete stairs that lead to the mezzanine above | HAIGHT Store | MNMA studio | STIR
    A series of concrete stairs that lead to the mezzanine above Image Credit: Fran Parente
    A view of the transparent enclosure built in the centre of the store | HAIGHT Store | MNMA studio | STIR
    A view of the transparent enclosure built in the centre of the store Image Credit: Fran Parente
  • Stair detail | HAIGHT Store | MNMA studio | STIR
    Stair detail Image Credit: Fran Parente
Every floor, walls, ceilings and furniture redefine the space with simplicity, but not simplistically, displaying raw materials. – André Papato and Mariana Schmidt, MNMA studio

The overall design of the store reflects a pristine poise and a subtle indulgence, in a manner similar to the minimalist and modern designs of the swimwear label. The use of exposed concrete and unpolished stones in a beautiful raw and unfinished state give a hand-made quality overall. Passalacqua, a Brazilian company that provides interior décor solutions, nourished the space with artisanal warmth by developing clay-based toned cement, paint and other coating.

Free style cavernous openings puncture the real wall of the store | HAIGHT Store | MNMA studio | STIR
Free style cavernous openings puncture the real wall of the store Image Credit: Fran Parente
Opening detail | HAIGHT Store | MNMA studio | STIR
Opening detail Image Credit: Fran Parente

A series of cavernous openings give a subtle bend to the rigidness that permeates the space. These details provide an element of decoration in the larger scheme that remains austere. Furthermore, adding a pinch of glamour are sinuous metal wires that run along the walls from which hangs the latest HAIGHT collection. These appear much like the alluring models themselves donning stylish beachwear.

View of the space near the entrance | HAIGHT Store | MNMA studio | STIR
View of the space near the entrance Image Credit: Fran Parente
Fluid metal wires run offset the walls to hang the brand’s latest clothing | HAIGHT Store | MNMA studio | STIR
Fluid metal wires offset the walls to hang the brand’s latest clothing Image Credit: Fran Parente

Intangible elements like silence, breathing, pause and light provide sensory stimulations and when combined together, they create a new atmosphere and experiences. With material as their protagonist and ambience as the backdrop, the project imbibes the spirit of one of those glimmering sun-tanned beaches of Rio, the joie de vivre of Brazil. 

  • Decor elements | HAIGHT Store | MNMA studio | STIR
    Decor elements Image Credit: Fran Parente
  • Decor elements | HAIGHT Store | MNMA studio | STIR
    Decor elements Image Credit: Fran Parente

Project Details

Name of the project: HAIGHT Store
Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Architect: MNMA Studio
Design Team: Andre Pepato, Mariana Schmidt
Completion: 2019

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About Author

Zohra Khan

Zohra Khan

A formal education in architecture combined with an avid interest in architecture journalism and design criticism led Khan to professionally venture into writing and research. She has worked in design communication for more than two years, generating content for mondo*arc india journal. When not writing, she kicks back by dabbling on social media for STIR.

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