The new store, which opened on Saturday, encompasses a 789m² space on Charing Cross Road that was previously used by a bookstore and a hairdresser.
It is the fourth store opened by the company, and was designed by architect Bureau de Change. Billy Mavropoulos, founder and lead architect on the project, says the practice aimed to create a sense of unity between the retailer’s virtual and physical spaces.
The interiors include a combination of physical furniture, which is arranged in clusters and aims to replicate the layout of a living room, and projections of products and explanatory text on white, curved walls.
“The catalogue is extensive and there’s only so much we can showcase in that space,” Mavropoulos says. “This combination provides an immediate link between the online and the physical, and helps customers see products in the context of something real. The white walls are blank canvasses behind the furniture, making the customer experience more interesting and fun.”
Other interactive elements include cloudtags, which enable customers to use iPad minis to scan tags on furniture in the shop for more information, and MacBooks where customers can browse the full catalogue of products.
The store also includes an archive of fabrics within drawers on one of the walls, allowing people to see and feel materials.
“There are things you can’t see online,” Mavropoulos says. “You need to actually touch it, sit on it, or see the colours in real life to get a sense of the quality. We’ve mixed tactile things like fabrics with digital information, giving customers a bit of both – so that when they go back home and look at the website, they will have a better idea of what the product is like.”
The practice has also created a window display, comprising 40,000 clear tubes with aluminium casts in the bottom displayed on Perspex sheets. Through replicating metal pin art, or “pinpressions”, with moulded 3D impressions of furniture, Bureau de Change aims to make the store look different from the others on Charing Cross Road, Mavropoulos says.
“There’s loads of theatres, lively shops and bars, and all the windows are so colourful and dominant,” he says. “So we’ve not used colour, as we wanted something that would stand out and be consistent for MADE – it’s one very simple and effective idea.”
MADE asked Bureau de Change to pitch its design for the new flagship store after the architect previously designed the interiors for its Notting Hill store in 2012.