If you haven’t heard the exciting news already, we’re signed up to be shopkeepers and are opening our very first S T O R E this May. Our prints will have a permanent H O M E in Hackney (exact location is still top secret!). We want to create the very best store and experience for our customers, which is why we’ve appointed the experts at MRA Architects to help us achieve the H O U S E O F H A C K N E Y dream.
MRA specialise in the design of captivating environments that effectively communicate brand values, and enable a customer to enjoy their visit to a store and feel good about their purchase.
We asked Anshu and Stephanie Srivastava, MRA Directors, to share a few secrets about the shop with you – read on if you want to find out what you can expect from our new H O M E . . .
How long does the average design process from creating a store concept through to finished design take?
This depends on the type and size of a project, but with an entirely new concept, like House of Hackney, we normally have around three to four months to arrive at a developed site-specific design.
The first thing is to get to know the creative people behind the brand and open up an artistic space where ideas and inspiration can flow back and forth. We then develop the ‘look and feel’ of the interior concept, exploring colour palettes, materials and architectural set pieces that can nourish and sustain not just a single boutique, but multiple projects with a thematic signature. Each site brings its own qualities and constraints to bear, so then we build upon the main concept to create a bespoke design for each location.
You’re experts in working in fashion retail design – what do you think are the 3 main factors which are important to make a store a pleasure to shop in?
This is a very interesting time for ‘bricks and mortar’ retail, with online retail and other social media rapidly changing the way people shop and interact with a brand. Rather than seeing this as a threat to the idea of the physical store, we think that this new digital landscape can actually liberate the store to be much more than just a place for transaction. It can act as a ‘touchpoint’ for the customer in their wider relationship with the brand, a tangible and tactile opportunity for the customer to be engaged, entertained and have the opportunity to express their preferences.
We aim to make a store that is as beautifully designed and crafted as one of House of Hackney‘s pieces of furniture or clothing, creating a space that will allow the flexibility for House of Hackney to curate their amazing vision over and over, without becoming static or constraining. The store will be set up to support a highly personalised service, which seamlessly links with House of Hackney’s website and social media.
We like to think of it as ‘digital sales, analogue delivery’.
How do you see the House of Hackney prints coming to life in our first store?
The prints are so beautiful and beguiling that we want to show them fully. Large format shelving units will allow ‘face out’ display of cushions, while floor-to-ceiling hinged panels for the wallpaper are designed so the full pattern repeat can be seen. A wonderful double-height space at the rear of the store will be paneled to again highlight the wallpapers, as customers take the spiral staircase to the basement salon.
Can you let our readers into any secrets of what they can expect to see in the design?
We have devised the store as a series of rooms. The names will give readers a sense of what to expect: Garden, Fabric, Fashion …
What’s your favourite retail project you’ve worked on in the past?
Well, our boutiques for Agent Provocateur are possibly among our favourites. The first major outing for the new concept was with flagship stores on Madison Avenue in New York and Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and it was a wonderful experience. As you know, Agent Provocateur is a quintessentially English brand. Their early success was built on a quirky approach, which had its tongue firmly in its cheek. As the company grew on an international scale, they came to MRA to develop a new concept that retained the humour and sexiness of the brand, but with added glamour and elegance. It was also important for the brand to have an interior concept that worked cross-culturally, whether in London, New York, Dubai or Seoul.
How important do you think the right location / building is to the successful creation of a store?
It certainly is important, but what is ‘right’? Some brands work best in the heart of an established commercial area, while other thrive as ‘destination’ stores in unexpected parts of a city. As architects, we are happiest when our clients choose buildings of character, wherever they are situated. This gives us the opportunity to weave together the old and the new, taking inspiration from the existing building and our concept brand palette.
For all us ‘non architects’ out here, do you really make scale models of each design before it comes to life, like we see in the movies?
We certainly do if time allows! We are currently working on a five-storey ‘maison’ building for a well-known luxury brand on New Bond Street, and the project involves a major extension, with new staircases, rooflights and lifts. We have made 3d computer models and physical card models of the spaces, so we can fully explore the options and communicate them to people who are less familiar with architectural drawings.
Do you have your eye on any House of Hackney prints yourselves? Which ones could you see in your own wardrobe or home?
We love Hackney Empire! However, our house is probably more Flights of Fancy!
Will you be visiting us when we open our doors in May?
Absolutely, we are really looking forward to the opening. This is a wonderfully exciting project and we will certainly be there to see the first customers visit the store.
Look out for the latest updates about our new store on our F A C E B O O K page and T W I T T E R