A store in Aranya*, a place located on the coast 300 km from Beijing.
*Aranya , derived from Sanskrit: a quiet place on earth, a place to find your true self.

This site, on the ground floor of a newly built “traditional” apartment block, is not facing the usual busy street front but is set back on a deep in-active public plaza.

Designing a store is one thing, but how to get people noticing it in the first place?

Unable to touch the facade, the idea to activate the plaza seemed a natural move. It meant shifting our focus on the journey, the experience of the public outside the store.

Aranya is an intriguing place. Designed as an exclusive utopia, its curated calm and controlled beauty, has a surrealistic feeling. Facing the Gold Coast beach, the city feels like a mirage, somehow emerging from the sea.

Embracing this new world, we activate the plaza with poetic composition, rhythmic standalone objects somehow washed up from the beach and left stranded. The mirror wall, marking the location of the store and simultaneously reflecting the reality of this illusion. Making the plaza into a space where the public can become the actors in the show.

With its main purpose to interact, mark and attract, the wall also suggests the place behind it. A space where reality takes over.

Only in use for a few months a year, when visitors flock to the comfortable sunny perfection of Aranya, this store reflects its temporary-ness in the world.

Working with the stripped space, a book and magazine area is the first encounter when entering. Steel paper storage racks and imperfect concrete brick and slab tables emulate the store as a pop up.

Inside The brand’s standard warehouse racks and reused display units are simply organised through the space.

Windows have been filled with bricks or glass where light and visibility is needed. In some openings, steel order and pick up booths are subtly inserted in wall openings, thus making a connection with a lemon tea stand inside.

Here quietly behind the wall, the people can sit, sip and contemplate what side of reality they actually want to play a part in.

Client: HARMAY
Location: Qinhuangdao, China
GFA: 500 sqm
Public Space Area:  1200sqm
Completion: 07/2022
Design scope: Interior Design & Façade Design & Public Space Design
Design Principals: Wendy Saunders & Vincent de Graaf
Project Architect: Jerry Guo, Simon Huang, Youjin An
Interior Team: Dongkai Hu, Jiao Yan, Song Jie
VM Team: Baoer Wang
Photography: Wen Studio, Bowen Gu

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