China‘s new stature as the planet’s biggest luxury market has swiftly trickled down to other segments where designers, brands and companies have upped the ante to keep abreast with an increasingly more savvy and sophisticated client base. The effort isn’t exclusive to the country’s leading fashion and lifestyle hubs Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, and as of late, Chengdu as well, but also in secondary boomtowns such as Ningbo. The affluent coastal city, situated a two-and-a-half-hour car drive south from Shanghai, is home to Progen Group, a multifaceted industrial corporation with large textile manufacturing division. It’s this part of the company which has recently made its first foray into retail, setting up a buyer’s store in the heart of the city. The retail space, called Progenius Park, measures 220 sqm. and is situated on the ground floor of one of Progen Group‘s office buildings. The interior design, created by Shanghai and London-based architecture and design practice Greater Dog, sees different sections, each captured in sleek design, putting an innovative spin on the overall shopping experience.
The store concept is focused on ‘hunting’ and ‘fitting’, metaphors used for respectively finding a new fashion item and trying it out with the assistance of a personal stylist. Additionally, the concept also aims to connect the indoors with the outdoors, hence the ‘park’ reference in its name, and integration of common elements found in nature and the outdoors into the retail design. Upon entering Progenius Park, shoppers find a pavilion-like structure with a sloped roof, and captured by stainless steel pipes and metal plates, from which coffee and other drinks are distributed. An adjacent plaza, or Leisure Square in Progenius Park parlance, with benches offers ample seating, and is flanked by more seating, display areas, and a tree trunk sculpture that gloriously upholds the design theme. The circular Sketch Gallery sits in the middle of the premises.
It’s an installation which displays hand-sketches by more than one hundred fashion designers, each presented by way of a rotatable metal box with a two-sided display method, and at the centre, another, but this time bigger, tree trunk sculpture can be found. More display areas, both sleek metal shelving and clothing racks surround the installation, in addition to eleven vertical drawers, also clad in steel, which store and display suits. Progenius Park‘s aforementioned stylist has circular domain, demarcated by five large convex mirrors on poles. Here, a number of professional styling services can be provided such as a skin test and body measurement, but also fitting and styling suggestions. Two fitting rooms are situated nearby, as is a full-fledged V.I.P. room for the more discerning kind of shopper. The Progenius Park boutique carries a tightly curated range of contemporary women’s labels from home and abroad, including A.A. Spectrum, TRUNKPROJECT, alufai, Attempt, 1017 ALYX 9SM, and of course the company’s very own label Progen.
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