Mirror Image pix
Gritty, edgy Berlin finds its reflection at Hugo, a store designed in-house and executed by Tim Hupe
Andreas Tzortzis -- Interior Design, 4/1/2006 12:00:00 AM
In the shop window at the Hugo boutique in Berlin, installations are rotated bimonthly. For this one, Hugo creative director Volker Kächele and Tim Hupe Architekten covered the floor, walls, and ceiling with panels of mirror back-painted in black lacquer.
An LED fixture sends light sweeping across the sales area's cement-plastered model of Berlin's Mitte district. Flooring is concrete.
Technische Universität Berlin students constructed the 1:500 Mitte model. Bamboo grows in the side garden. Mirrored on four walls, dressing rooms can fit at least two people.
A leather-detailed island sits among mobile racks of polished aluminum; all are custom.
Custom lacquered tables display men's jeans and belts.
In the entry corridor, women's leather boots stand on the back-painted glass top of a custom case clad in aged pine.
The sales area's 10-foot ceiling and cable-suspended LEDs are reflected in a display fixture's mirrored top.
|Paris. Tokyo. New York. Wherever his job takes him each month, Hugo creative director Volker Kächele makes sure to pack appropriately. The goal, he says, is to dress tastefully but not stand out, which might mean a black velvet waistcoat on the Champs-Elysées or sunglasses and a knit cap on Fifth Avenue. On Berlin's Rosenthaler Strasse—where the young, cosmopolitan division of Hugo Boss just opened its first stand-alone store—you might catch Kächele in distressed jeans two sizes too big.
Designed by Kächele with the support of Tim Hupe Architekten, which had recently served as project architect for Herzog & de Meuron's Allianz Arena in Munich, the Hugo shop occupies an early 1900's building in the boutique-filled Mitte district. The 4,200-square-foot interior manages to convey the elegance and energy of a well orchestrated runway show without forgetting Berlin's rough edges—a must in a city that doesn't take kindly to poseurs. "People here don't like standard concepts," Kächele says. He and Tim Hupe delivered exactly the opposite.
The shop window practically screams for attention with a steady rotation of outlandish art and fashion installations. Stacked washing machines, a Jaguar sedan, and a fun house of mirrored squares, back-painted with black lacquer, are among the recent attractions.
Stepping inside, past a gruff-looking security guard, shoppers enter a long corridor. It's an urban catwalk, if you like, with concrete underfoot. Lining one side, mirror panels back-painted with gray lacquer create a moody effect. On the opposite side, a run of headless mannequins—one dressed in a blue-and-white floral dress, another in a gray wool topcoat—stands in stark contrast to a rough brick wall.
That same wall extends into the stripped-down sales area to become the boutique's most elaborate gesture. Covering a 50-foot-wide expanse is a 1:500 relief model of the Mitte district, created by Technische Universität Berlin design students and rendered in cement-based plaster over wood. Every two minutes, LEDs sweep the installation with white light.
Rather than riding the current trend of lighting up stores like dentists' offices, Kächele and Hupe opted for accents. Dozens of red, white, and blue LEDs dangle from red cables anchored to the 10-foot ceiling—its exposed beams and wiring flaunt an unfinished look that's typical of the Berlin that helps inspire Kächele's Hugo collection. The artificial illumination is supplemented by three existing skylights. "Lighting is what creates the atmosphere," Hupe says. "Perhaps even more than the materials."
Dark mirror, a recurring motif, camouflages the two runs of dressing rooms, a pair for women and three for men. Wired to open at the touch of a button, giant mirrored doors reveal the rooms, each with space enough for two or more. "Isn't that luxe?" Kächele asks. Equally so, rectangular ottomans upholstered in smoky-gray distressed leather sit in the middle of the dressing rooms, which are almost completely mirrored. The only interruption is a floor-to-ceiling strip of fluorescent tubes.
The dark-mirrored tops of the U-shape cash-wrap counter and rectangular display cases contrast with their striated sides of aged pine. And those pieces contrast, in turn, with tables lacquered lipstick red and racks made of polished aluminum. (The racks and cases are mobile, so Kächele can rearrange them to suit a particular collection.)
In the middle of the sales floor, a leather-detailed seating island allows shoppers to observe the swirl of people. "Unlike in New York or Paris, the shoppers in Berlin have all the time in the world," Kächele says. "They sit down and hang out." In a small side courtyard planted with bamboo, "hanging out" takes place in more serious Berlin style—with coffee and cigarettes.