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The concept at the heart of the new River Island flagship in Birmingham’s Bullring Shopping Centre is ‘The Event’ – the essence of being at a fashion show or art exhibition. Designed by Dalziel and Pow in collaboration with River Island’s in-house team, this stripped-back, deconstructed space reveals different facets as shoppers explore for an exciting sense of discovery. The new design concept was conceived due to a desire to create a fresh, flexible and surprising brand experience within River Island’s flagship stores that embodies the wow factors that have always been in River Island’s DNA in a modern way that can be easily updated to reflect the brand’s latest collections and respond to consumers’ changing tastes and needs.

Customers enter into an 8m high atrium space where a troop of mannequins stands on a central, circular ‘stage’. Instead of straight lines, the design emphasises angles and proportions: segments of wall and huge panels slice through the space, with layered, large-scale photographic panels and mirrors leaning against the walls. A louvred ceiling of spotlights and neon brings the feeling of being on stage when inside looking out. Use of materials juxtaposes urban and luxury – poured resin and ply alongside real marble and glass. Adding a touch of trompe l’oeil, digitally printed wallpapers also replicate the marble and concrete surfaces. Fitting rooms are inspired by fashion show catwalks and feel far more integrated in the main store. There is also a brand new Style Studio for VIP personal shopping and styling advice. The two-floor site – sits next door to the old River Island store and is double its size. The Women’s department runs fluidly into Kids’, which follows the same design theme, as does the Men’s offer on the mezzanine level.

Ben Lewis, CEO of River Island, said: “I am incredibly proud of the look and feel of the new flagship store and the way that the store design has elevated the shopping experience here. River Island is such a distinctive brand with a stylish, fun and confident attitude and you can see this everywhere you look. I have received excellent feedback from our colleagues in store and customers, and I am looking forward to spending more time here myself.” With a history of working together for 25 years continuously, River Island once again returned to Dalziel and Pow to collaborate on this fresh, dynamic new flagship store. Dalziel and Pow was responsible for creating the first colonial looking River Island stores in 1988 when they changed overnight from Chelsea Girl.

Design: Dalziel and Pow

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