V&A unveils new museum shop inspired by “craftsmanship”

The remodelled retail space has been designed by architectural practice Friend & Company, and features a craft demonstration area and tiled flooring inspired by the V&A’s own ceramics collection.

V&A Main Shop (c) Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum shop has been redesigned to reflect the institution’s historic association with craft and design.

Architectural practice Friend & Company has led a collective of designers including interior design consultancy Millimetre, after winning an international competition to redesign the shop in 2016.

The £1 million retail space is part of the V&A’s FuturePlan long-term development programme taking place at its site in Kensington, west London.

Friend & Company says it took inspiration for the design from the V&A’s archives at Blythe House, which show that the museum’s first shop in 1863 was used to showcase new crafts and as a space for visitors to connect with the museum’s collections.

Jewellery Pavilion and Pocket Workshop

The redesigned, 465m² shop is designed to be a multi-functional space, which is capable of hosting different events as well as housing more traditional retail areas.

It includes a new Jewellery Pavilion and a Pocket Workshop craft demonstration space which will focus on a different material every quarter, starting with ceramics.

The “craftsmanship” theme is carried through to the interiors of the space, where Friend & Company has designed a 3D-printed “ceramic carpet” of tiles for the floor, featuring a pattern taken from a 20th century Chinese bowl that is part of the V&A’s collection. The pattern has been digitally altered and printed onto individual tiles using a robotic arm, which have then been hand-glazed.

“Fascination with digital craft processes”

Friend & Company has increased the amount of displayable wall space, and has removed the suspended ceiling originally installed in the 1970s to increase the height of the space.

Additional features include display trays and boxes produced by Millimetre, which can be adapted from table top to wall displays or vice versa, steel shelving and Perspex lanterns.

Friend & Company founder Adrian Friend, says: “The shop design was inspired by our fascination with digital craft processes and is now as much a showcase of latest building technologies as it is a space to display new designers work and additions to the shop collection.”

The V&A Museum shop is now open to the public.

V&A Main Shop with pillars (c) Victoria and Albert Museum, London
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