If a city’s retail reflects its level of sophistication, Chengdu‘s development chart would require several pages just to cover one year. Situated in Southwest China, the economic growth of this city has been staggering in the past few decades. It has spawning a retail infrastructure that’s now seeing an accelerated diversification on different levels, and the recent opening of multi-brand boutique SOWHAT can be seen in this light. The store is situated at Jingronghui, a large complex of soaring towers with offices, serviced apartments and residences in the downtown district of Jinjiang, and occupies a 255 sqm. (2,745 sq.ft.) two-storey unit with an entrance of its own on the ground floor. Designed by local architecture practice iZ Design, the store has been given an opaque glass façade which is in stark contrast with the slabs of grey stone of the mixed-use complex. It’s paired with a striking KAWS statue in matching white, signalling SOWHAT‘s discerning fashion focus to any shopper that passes though the door. The half-round steps leading to the entrance form part of a circular shape which extends indoors.
In fact, the ground floor comprises of two intersecting circles, connected by stairs and each forming a separate space, and surrounding galleries. The construction lends the upper and larger circular room an alluring aura of inner sanctum. Contrary to a more neutral palette outside, the core sees a setting in dark green and yellow with metal elements. Furnishings are few, comprising of a large display table made of metal pipes, a seating area with a table and sofas, and a sales counter. Wall-mounted clothing racks with built-in lighting line the walls. A narrow staircase leads to the top floor where the circular shape, or rather, half circle, is captured by a metal cabinets flanked by curved clothing racks. Here, textural contrast goes full throttle, and sees a shiny metal cabinet, replete with faux antiquity bust, collide with the brightly coloured graphics of the carpet and back wall shelving with backdrop of crushed glass. On top of that, the fitting rooms, situated behind a dividing wall, come in a soft pink hue. SOWHAT is all about high fashion, and carries a tightly curated range of high-end and forward women’s brands from both home and abroad, including ANREALAGE, Ming Ma, Dion Lee, SHUSHU/TONG, Marni, Alexander Wang and MM6.
Designed by iZ Design
Images © iZ Design
Photography: He Chuan
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