Lumsden shop tactics

The job to design the Tate Modern’s three shops has been one of the high spots of Callum Lumsden’s career to date. The gallery, which opens on 12 May, was created by Swiss architect Herzog & De Meuron in London’s former Bankside Power Station, and is one

The job to design the Tate Modern’s three shops has been one of the high spots of Callum Lumsden’s career to date. The gallery, which opens on 12 May, was created by Swiss architect Herzog & De Meuron in London’s former Bankside Power Station, and is one of the most prestigious architectural projects in the UK.

The shops include a glass-fronted 700m2 outlet alongside the entrance ramp at ground level and a 200m2 shop on the riverfront on the second level. Books are the main focus for both shops, with a relatively small area dedicated to T-shirts, mugs and the like. A 200m2 unit beside the café on the fourth level will sell books and merchandise relating to any temporary exhibition within the gallery.

Lumsden Design Partnership was briefed to create ‘the best modern art shop in the world’ at ground level, says Lumsden, with around 10 000 books. It had to honour the architecture of the building, given its prominent position. Existing steel girders and columns from the original turbine hall remain and the rough-sawn oak floor is the same as in the galleries.

The materials are picked up in hug oak and sand-blasted, aluminium-wheeled display ‘tables’, sales counters and beautifully crafted oak drawers to store posters. Glass and sand-blasted aluminium units hold postcards and slides. All the units were made by Ronald Smith Associates, which has since gone out of business.

The big difference in this shop is a frieze of lightboxes above the book shelves along the main wall. For a year this will feature photographs of the local area by artist/ photographer Hannah Starkey, commissioned by Tate Modern as part of a scheme adopted at Lumsden’s suggestion. On the second level the floor is polished concrete and the units are made of black ash and sand-blasted aluminium. The fourth level unit is different, with deep yellow walls and dark oak fittings, though the ‘furniture’ designs are consistent throughout.

  • Client: Tate Publishing
  • Design: Lumsden Design Partnership
  • Design team: Callum Lumsden, Rado Iliev, Tanya Lucas, Helen Gubb and Lol Sonenschien
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