The King’s Road retro

Virgin Megastore has gone for a retro look for its soon-to-be-opened store in the King’s Road. Using, for the first time, a selection of product designers for key elements, the retailer is attempting to put a modern spin on fashions and images from the west London street’s heritage.

Planned from the outset as a one-off design, the store features a new Bridget Riley-inspired identity created by Met Studio with the familiar Virgin roundel at its centre. The swirly pattern will appear on the store frontage in brushed and polished chrome after Kensington & Chelsea Borough Council refused to allow it in a shade of psychedelic yellow. The pattern is repeated on flooring throughout the store, offering spectacular views of the ground from upper balcony levels.

Famous images from the Sixties and Seventies replace standard store graphics. Michael Caine as Harry Palmer, Mini Coopers, and TV sleuth Jason King are among them.

The basement ceiling bears a selection of 3D stars and target symbols to cover heating and ventilation services.

Virgin Megastore design manager Gerrie Smith, appointed 18 months ago to a newly created role, describes the store as the most design-led outlet ever created for Virgin’s entertainment chain. Emphasis is placed throughout on customer sampling, allowing customers more opportunity to try out products before buying.

This policy is behind the development, by product design consultancy Priestman Goode, of the Vibro Chair. Inspired by the classic Egg Chair, designed by Arne Jacobsen, the innovative seat includes stereo speakers and vibrating panels for the best possible audio experience. Customers literally feel the bass through the seat of their pants.

Four of the leather upholstered chairs, with matching CD holders, will adorn a basement listening lounge, and more will be placed in upper areas of the store. Smith is predicting that they will be a major talking point for customers.

New listening posts, by product design consultancy Tangerine, are also to be introduced in the King’s Road outlet and, later this month, in the Oxford Street flagship store. The interface is available in five languages and will allow shoppers to choose from eight CDs on offer, scanning in the barcode to choose which one plays.

As far as possible, standard Virgin Megastore hardware has been used, its appearance transformed with new finishes, textures and graphics. This meant costs were kept to 1.5m for the entire store.

Client: Virgin Megastores

Designers: Met Studio, Priestman Goode, Tangerine

Architect: PPM Architects

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