Project Focus #1: Featherlite Retail Store

If space is a canvas, one on which life enfolds, then retail spaces are a prima donna kind of canvas. A space where the product on display is the star, where space itself then takes a back-seat, mostly illuminating the goods while other times iterating as a showcase. The design of the Featherlite showroom tries to do just that, mostly illuminating the fine office-furniture and at other times transforming into a showcase that angles the goods. As a brand that deals in top of the line fine office furniture with a scientific bent, as a brand that believes in innovating work-spaces, the firm required a retail space that complements its philosophy. Rendering the store a minimal and zen-like quality the entire space is en-robed in a palette doused by emphatic levels of the pristine color white. The brand’s logo adorns the signboard in striking white letters on a red aluminium sheet while the show window is decorated by a C-shaped angular shelf framing the display pieces, here dapper-black chairs are assembled. The angular frame also is a pedestal that focuses on the latest range orchestrated off the glazed display window. Brand graphics are mounted on the external granite wall showcasing visual imagery of the merchandise.

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Envisioned as a pure white canvas that draws attention to the office furniture, the flooring is kept to one single level, for ease in testing out the furniture, in gleaming white, on which the products stand out. As the products on display are office furniture, mainly chairs and modular systems, tables and storage systems, flexibility of space is kept paramount. The gleaming white floor kept at one level facilitates easy sliding of the chairs in and out of their designated spots when required. A host of chairs provide a cheery greeting at the entrance in the centre, while each of the adjoining walls are used for display. The Northern wall for instance, has double-decked arrangement, a tiered level of chairs while the Southern wall has premium products settled in a prescribed space with graphic manuals showcasing their features on square panels secured above corresponding chairs. Lighter products that can be easily lifted of the solid wooden shelf are placed on the upper tier. Placed below on the Northern display wall, are the more robust or heavier products. As an extension to the shelf, are caved in display units housing quirky models produced by the brand. These display units along the wall are finished by a seamless unit holding up the television that showcases additional products and projects completed by the 3-decade old company. Flushed in white the television panel is used as a shelving unit from its one side. The Southern wall is finalized with vertical longitudinal members in white demarcating one unit from the other. The information graphics housed above the chairs help explain the functions and use of the premium office chairs that are displayed. The idea is to read the information in tandem, allow for easy comparison and hence help to make a well-informed decision of which product to buy!

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As the brand sells, chairs and tables, modular systems and storage’s, the internal space is designed to create an optimum and well laid out floor plan housing all the products the brand offers. Once the chair display ends, a huge square-grid beveled mirror panel is installed that adds artistic depth to the showroom and hints at an additional flow of space. The diagonally arranged table in front of the beveled mirror panel is a discussion space that is the keystone between the two major products of the store, and this is where customers learn more about the products. As the day progresses, sun-light streams into the store, also marking the gradual movement of the sun. From noon on-wards, in the afternoon, sunlight strikes into the middle area of the store, thereby the mirror is deliberately and precisely placed to harbor the day-light into the deeper ends of the store. The huge beveled mirror thus creates a dazzling effect during the day serving two purposes of heightening the space and achieving optimum levels of daylight within the entire store space.

Ahead the store takes a dynamic shift to the left into the area that is used for the display of executive cabin furniture. The speed and route map of the wandering customer is predetermined by the cautious diagonal arrangement of the furniture. Placed at angles, the patron is cajoled to slow down and appreciate the furniture from all angles. Assessing the furniture from all directions also is beneficial to envision the furniture in different possible locations they are likely to be subscribed for. At the far end of the store, the office space is planned, all equipped with the needs of a retail space. By tucking in the workings, the entire store is dedicated and designed keeping in prime view, the needs of the buyer and the product solely.

Topped over is a sleek white ceiling dimension, one that drops down a notch and works its way through dynamic angles leading a consumer into the store. From its start it adopts a dynamic tangent and follows into the store indicating a rough idea of the space within. At the entrance the ceiling is punctuated by deconstructed ribbon-like stainless steel lights highlighting the dapper-black and luxury chairs that take center-stage. LED lights are geometrically placed across the leveled ceiling and the recessed ceiling, casting ambient light across the store. Optimum lighting levels are maintained to allow for a non-disruptive clear display. Additional track-lights are included to create accent lighting within the store creating pockets of focus lights for the staged display.

The store is thus a white box wherein the work-space possibilities are conceptualized in a seemingly endless space, a canvas, a setting that showcases the product as a background-score. White is expansive, white is non-debilitating, white is exhibitive allowing for free-thinking, vastness, openness and symbolizing space. In the retail space it is used as a canvas taking different forms, sometimes caving in, sometimes standing out, sometimes with a hint of gloss, other times in matted simplicity, in sleek angles, in shy joinery, in bold grooves or as a framed legacy.

Project Data

Architects                   : Form and Space

Location                      : Hyderabad, India

Area                              : 1350 sft

Project Completed  : November, 2014

Construction Time : 1 month

Photograph credits: Vishal Siddamsetty


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