FORMORAL, an independent skincare brand with medical science background, entrusted lialawlab to design its concept flagship store in Hangzhou, China. Drawing inspiration from the brand’s product attribute that combines nature and technology, the design team creatively conceived a series of spatial scenes based on the theme “Retro-Futurism”. The space was envisioned as a contrasting yet unified whole, which breaks the “homogeneous” image of physical retailing spaces in modern cities and explores the deep relationship between nature and the artificial, bioscience and lifestyle aesthetics.
Gray textural paint is applied to large areas of interior surfaces in an unconventional manner, to set the overall tone of the space. The austere finishes echo the brand’s affinity for nature, whilst highlighting the image of a primitive “desert planet”. Arcs that combine functionality, techniques and aesthetics extend from the foyer to the interior space, creating familiar yet novel sensory experiences.
Arcs utilized in the overall space have four different forms and scales, and are all cut out from tangent circles. The curves with a radius of less than 600 mm are applied to furniture, while the arcs with a radius between 1,500 mm and 1,800 mm are used on the massive sphere and walls. The openings on the ceiling are mainly highlighted by arcs with a radius of 6,000 mm.
The largest arc with a radius of 30,000mm is used on the entire roof. The arcs of various scales are interlaced in the plan, the elevation and the entire space. Within a limited site area of 120-square-meter, the design team organized the layout and circulation based on spatial strategies and interactive designs, to efficiently accommodate various functional areas with different privacy requirements.
A rising “planet”, a futuristic tunnel clad with matte silver foil and aluminum plates and two cabin doors along the tunnel tie together the eight functions, including brand display, skin testing & product selling, rest & communication, events & demonstration, self care & washing, office, product storage and a break room for employees, while also helping denote the “inside” and “outside” and define the public and private realms.
To trigger people’s desire to explore the space, the designers carved out a 200mm-wide gap at the height of 1.25 meters of the massive sphere and the tunnel. The gap is complemented with mirrored material, allowing customers to stay, wonder, stare and rest.
It also offers a visual continuity so that the staff can better serve customers. The seemingly random detail treatment actually responds to the brand’s values, and stimulates an interactive atmosphere. The project is situated in a shopping mall, which imposed certain design restrictions. The original ceiling height is 4.6 meters, and the usable height is only 2.8 meters because MEP equipment is installed on the roof structure.
The designers skillfully created an open curved ceiling to deal with the site limitations. The arc-shaped roof with the highest point of 2.75 meters overlaps the central massive sphere. When the roof reaches the lowest point of 1.25 meters, it meets the wall to create a seamless transition and become a stable fulcrum. Right above the reception desk is an arc-shaped opening with a radius of 6 meters which subdues any sense of inhibition and avoids a lot of renovation work of MEP. Simultaneously, the roof effectively extends the reception to the public realm, achieving a balance between functionality and form.
Project information: Project Name: FORMORAL Science Skin Care Centre; Project Location: 6F GDA Plaza, No. 609 Yan’an Road, Xiacheng District, Hangzhou, China; Project Type: Commercial Store; Completion Time: Jan. 15th, 2021; Project Area: 120 square meters; Designers: Lia Xing, Haifeng Luo; Design Firm: lialawlab; Photographer: Feng Shao;