LONDON – ‘One of the main ideas was about the essence of perfume – the chemistry that goes into it,’ says Dean Pike, cofounder of up-and-coming architecture practice Al-Jawad Pike. He’s describing the thinking behind the firm’s inventive shop window for high-end perfumer Penhaligon’s. Rather than opting for a simple presentation of products, the studio designed and built twin lattices made from copper piping – 120 m in total – that hold more than 150 glass flasks, each containing one of the raw ingredients that go into the 32 fragrances available at Penhaligon’s.
The installation began life last year as part of the RIBA Regent Street Windows Project, an annual competition that pairs architects with retailers along London’s famous West End shopping street. The result is an array of eye-catching window displays for shops, cafés and restaurants. ‘We felt Penhaligon’s was one of the more interesting brands to work with,’ says Pike, who appreciated the perfumer’s encouragement of an experimental approach to window-dressing. With a budget of only £2,500, the architects built the lattices on site, in a room at the back of the store, assembling the piping with nearly 1,000 copper connectors. Al-Jawad Pike was awarded joint first place for its creative efforts.
Although the installation was intended to be temporary, Penhaligon’s has decided to roll out the scheme to other stores, and the architects are working on new concepts for the company. ‘What began as a simple RIBA competition,’ says Pike, ‘has led to our ongoing collaboration with Penhaligon’s.’
Photography by Andrew Meredith