Creative agency Dalziel & Pow raises the bar for experiential retailing with the ‘Playground of Wonders’– a spectacular new home for The Shop at Bluebird in London’s vibrant Covent Garden. After 12 years as an iconic destination on the King’s Road, The Shop at Bluebird has relocated to the historic Carriage Hall on Floral Street and unveiled a 15,000-square-foot flagship that embodies the brand’s whimsical, expressive, free-spirited identity. A carefully selected edit of artwork, design, premium fashion and beauty including Chloe, Alexander McQueen, Peter Pilotto, Victoria Beckham, Racil, Galvan, Temperley London and Ports 1961, alongside contemporary labels like Isa Arfen, Rixo London, Ganni and Forte Forte. unfolds across this 19th century coach house, completed by a rooftop terrace and restaurant.
Delivering a sense of wonder and anticipation to wow experience-hungry customers, the space has been designed to gradually reveal its theatrical interior and Instagrammable moments. After a deceptively understated shopfront, shoppers progress through a trend area featuring a bold VM arrival statement and trailing greenery along the ceiling, which gives a hint of what lies ahead. A glass-topped atrium, encircled with three galleried floors, awaits at the heart of the store. Flooded with natural light and paved with cobblestones, it evokes an open-air courtyard feel. Continuing the juxtaposition of indoors and outdoors, lush hanging baskets cascade onto the foliage on the ground. The showstopping centrepiece of the atrium is a bespoke Icosahedron installation of 20 mirrored faces that reflect and distort the surroundings. The main staircase also has a reflective underside, as if floating among the greenery, and this playfulness with the perception of space continues around the store.
Art has always been a core part of The Shop at Bluebird and it is infused throughout the new space, including a wall of artworks on the first floor exclusively curated by William Ling of the Fashion Illustration Gallery. Stairwell treatments pay homage to different artists on each level. The lifts are treated with a kaleidoscope of coloured paint that seemingly drips down the walls and puddles out onto the timber flooring, connecting the two floors. Statement design and objets d’art similarly express the brand’s creative, eclectic spirit, combining found antique furniture with pieces rehomed from the King’s Road location. Long tables for merchandising displays bring a grandeur of scale, alongside large handmade rugs and dramatic draped curtains. Wallpaper in clashing colours and textures continue the eclectic aesthetic, both the elegant geometrics of Art Deco pattern and florid Victorian motifs. The work of Timorous Beasties, a Glasgow studio known for its surreal and provocative patterns, appears frequently including behind the cash desks and in fitting rooms.
Dalziel & Pow adds an exciting sense of discovery to the store experience, punctuating landing spaces with lifestyle elements, books and homewares, and giving each shop-in-shop or department a unique treatment. The Bags and Jewellery shop-in-shop, for example, uses yellow zinc as a signature material, while Beauty and Fragrance is natural, earthy and soft with apothecary detailing and a living tree bursting through the ‘test and play’ table. A strong VM statement of projections onto draped fabric draws customers into the first-floor Fashion Playground. This sleekly styled area again plays on reflections, using mirrors and cleverly landscaped screens to create infinite perspectives. Contemporary and casual fashion embodies the playground of wonders theme with a striking lighting installation, mixing Rothschild & Bickers bespoke hand-blown glass with found vintage pieces.
The design is respectful of the Grade II-listed architecture, offering an artful blend of heritage and modernity. The team have highlighted original features such as beautiful wooden beams and brickwork, as well as adding equestrian details, and carriage wheel motifs in a nod to its former life as a coach house. With a smart pulley system of suspended rails, the whole space is able to adapt for brand takeovers, fashion shows and other events. Fitting rooms are cleverly disguised behind discrete angled walls, while cash desks (hand-crafted from recycled waste materials) are made into striking features thanks to patterned or tiled backdrops. An exceptional level of detail is visible throughout, from the bluebird and bee-shaped handles on cabinets to the branded labels hanging on rails. A restaurant and roof terrace will open on the store’s top floor in summer 2018. This will join the dedicated spaces for Blink Brow Bar – offering a walk-in eyebrow shaping services using the ancient art of threading – the Avery Perfume Gallery and a takeover shop-in-shop by Italian lifestyle brand Fornasetti.
Dalziel & Pow’s Creative Director David Dalziel headed up the creative team. “The Shop at Bluebird, Carriage Hall, Covent Garden is one of those rare opportunities in retail design – a great site and a brave client who can see the potential in creating a benchmark retail experience,” he said. “This can become the ‘must-see’ fashion lifestyle store in London.” Claire Miles, Head of The Shop at Bluebird, commented: “The Shop at Bluebird has long been a hub of creativity, and in our new Carriage Hall home, we’ll be bringing our unexpected fashion, art, and beauty finds to a truly unique store setting.”
Designed by Dalziel & Pow
Images © The Shop at Bluebird