An icon of British culture, Selfridges & Co. operates a series of high-profile department stores across the UK. Since its earliest days in 1909, Selfridges sought to make shopping an adventure rather than a chore. The store gathered and displayed goods from around the globe to amaze and excite its customers - Selfridges was a place where shoppers could find wonders they could see nowhere else
In the lead up to Selfridge’s 100th anniversary celebrations, KDa was asked to undertake a birthday revamp, redesigning 1,800m2 of luxury goods retail space on the ground floor of Selfridges’ Oxford Street store. The brief was to accommodate store-in-store concessions for nine luxury brands – including Chanel, Cartier, and Chrome Hearts – selling goods from jewellery to high-end mobile phones to exotic rare books. KDa’s goal was to reintroduce the surprise and wonder into the shopping experience, and create a department store for the 21st century.
Returning to London, where both Astrid and Mark had lived and studied in the 1980s, they were impressed by places such as Burlington Arcade. Compared to the chaotic shopping areas in Tokyo where stores compete for attention, the architectural setting dominated the individual stores to give the large number of outlets a sense of uniformity. “Places we would have overlooked as locals became very interesting, places where brands fit neatly behind the existing architecture of a building that they are forced to respect,” says Dytham.
Another key inspiration for the design was the notion of wunderkammer, known in English as “curiosity cabinets”. These encyclopaedic collections were room-sized displays of interesting, exotic, or charming objects from all over the world, and are the predecessors of modern museum collections.
Combining these two ideas, KDa created the “Wonder Room”, a space that houses “a luxury goods emporium with the energy of a souk.” The key element is an elegant wall of glass and white-coated aluminium fins that runs around the perimeter of the room. Beautifully polished stainless steel display cabinets float between the fins, and the concessions are placed behind this uniform façade.