Born in China with a big Scandinavian influence, the Chinese fashion retail store BENLAI opened its door to the public in Guangzhou in April 2022.
Inspired by its origins, we imagined the space to feel like a journey. Not just one single spatial experience, but many. Engaging a dialogue between Scandinavian lifestyle and today’s Chinese culture, creating a unique retail experience. Influenced by the landscapes of northern Europe, our concept is all about the fine line between indoor and outdoor.
The atrium is the grounding point of the journey – a giant monochrome object guiding customers through the store. Entirely wrapped in a textured terracotta skin, the void becomes an entity, creating a powerful unity between the three very distinct floors. A wavy polished stainless-steel ceiling, generously scales up the height of the space, reminds us how grand nature can be.
This first floor carries the foot of the mountain. Natural stone connect different levels that perform multiple functions. New collections can be dropped and viewed from different angles. Walking over these different heights and stages create varied viewpoints and generate unstrained flexible circulation paths and pop-up possibilities.
Designed in a theatrical way, the hierarchy and rhythm of the different architectural elements such as columns, boxes, and free-standing podium & racks, define the man-made forest grid. The contrast between cold materials and warm colors strengthens the tactility and depth of the space, creating playful frames of action and experience. Full wall cabinets, containing the bulk of the products, line the edge of the forest. A Natural stone floor and the aluminium ceiling grid connect the entire space diffusing our image of exterior and Interior.
On the 3rd floor, islands define the space. Seemingly randomly placed they create visual focus and organize a natural flow of circulation. Different diameters, wrap warm wooden interiors that function as mini-in-house retail pockets. The weaved bamboo surfaces, contrast with the grid ceilings and steel furniture and remind us of exterior boundaries found in Chinese gardens.
All these elements combined, the stacking of abstract landscapes, material contrasts and cultural complementarities, respect the brands origins yet bring a new identity and freshness to the department store.
GFA: 2337 sqm
Completion: Apr. 2022
Design Scope: Interior, FF&E
Design Principals: Wendy Saunders，Vincent de Graaf
Studio Director: Yvonne Lim
Project Architect: Chris Cheng, Alba Galan
Interior Team: Baoer Wang, Chen Yuan, Dongkai Hu, Emilio Wang Chen, Leslie Chen, Victor Mongin, Yan Jiao, Zheng Wei
FF&E Team: Lili Chen, Weisha Dai
VM Team: Baoer Wang
General Contractor: Guangzhou Goldfinger Decoration Design Engineering Co., Ltd.
Light Supplier: KOIZUMI Lighting Technology (Shanghai) Co., Ltd.
Display Supplier: Guangzhou Yingpai Display Technology Co., Ltd.
Main Materials: Earth Stucco, Aluminum Grid, Grey Stucco, Sesame Grey Stone, Mirror Stainless Steel, Beige Stone, Stainless Steel, Foamed Aluminum Panel, Coating, Cork, Wood, Bamboo Weaving
Photography: Wen studio, Zaohui Huang