Best Retail Projects of 2019

In 2019, retail found itself at a crossroads with many established players closing stores and other more bullish brands opening new outlets designed with today's tech-savvy consumer in mind. How do you make a physical store relevant in the 21st-century? Interior Design profiled dozens of enterprising merchants, but these 10 captured the best of today's evolving retail sceneamong them one project that won a 2019 Best of Year award and two that garnered honoree status

SND in Chongqing, China by Various Associates

A temple of luxury. It’s a concept a designer may have in the back of their mind when conceiving a retail space. Various Associates took the idea a step further at an outpost of SND, a clothing and jewelry boutique inside the upscale Shin Kong Place shopping center in Chongqing, China. Confronted with a long and narrow 3,100-square-foot plan surrounded by a glass facade on three sides, co-founder Yang Dongzi utilized mirrors to create a funhouse effect as customers meander through narrow corridors. “We stretched the obvious walking route,” he says, “so you can see the products in an interesting way.” The results earned the designers a 2019 Best of Year Award for Fashion Retail. Read more about this project

Neiman Marcus in New York City’s Hudson Yards by Janson Goldstein

Whatever one thinks of the massive, city-changing undertaking at Hudson Yards, anchoring the neighborhood with Manhattan’s first Neiman Marcus is an undeniably bold choice. As is the store’s design, conceived by Janson Goldstein and intended to bridge the area’s industrial past with its high-end present. The 188,880-square-foot, three-story flagship offers two entrances: a 30-foot-tall lobby with an elevator directly to the upper floors and a main entrance on the fifth floor with striking views of Thomas Heatherwick’s “Vessel.” The project was a 2019 Best of Year Award honoree for Department Store. Read more about this project

Forty Five Ten by 5G Studio Collaborative and Snarkitecture

The New York debut of the Dallas-based store Forty Five Ten at 20 Hudson Yards channels the eclectic fashion it offers with such trompe l’oeils as a “fractured” glass-block storefront and a rocklike display of carved and painted high-density foam. The design was named 2019 Best of Year Award honoree for Fashion Retail.  Read more about this project

Zhongshuge Book Store in Xi'an, China by Wutopia Lab

Xi'an, a city considered the cradle of Chinese culture was naturally a place where an ambitious book­-store chain, Zhongshuge, thought it should have a presence. To make just the right statement, cre­ating a literal haven for literature, the compa­ny returned to Shanghai-based Wutopia Lab, which had previously designed locations near Shanghai and in Suzhou. Xi’an’s, at more than 20,000 square feet, is the largest to date. “There’s a café, a gift shop, a lecture hall, and a movie-themed gallery,” Wutopia founder and chief architect Yu Ting notes. All this can be found inside a new mixed-use com-­plex with twin office and hotel towers connected by a podium, which houses dining and retail including Zhongshuge. Read more about this project



Joseph Cheaney London in Thomas Heatherwick

Lewis Cubitt’s famed King's Cross Station in London debuted in 1852, and just a few decades before, further north, Joseph Cheaney opened its first shoe factory in Northamptonshire. By the time Thomas Heatherwick founded a studio at the dawn of the 21st century, the King's Cross neighborhood was ripe for renovation—which he duly undertook, joining two 19th-century buildings into the Coal Drops Yardshopping center. And now that the center has opened, he’s added a snug boutique for Joseph Cheaney’s beloved handmade shoes. Read more about this project

Manolo Blahnik “Bauhaus Sanitarium” in Tokyo by Nick Leith Smith

Nick Leith-Smith has designed more than 60 retail outlets for Manolo Blahnik, from exhibitions to new-build pavilions, but it’s safe to say that that in their 20-year working relationship he’d never received a brief quite like the one for Blahnik’s new flagship in Tokyo’s famed Omotesando district: “Bauhaus Sanitarium.” Read more about this project

Durasport in Singapore by Ministry of Design

“How do we make a physical store relevant?” That’s what the team at Ministry of Design asked themselves, says founder and director Colin Seah, when they got the chance to design a Durasport sporting goods flagship in a new mall in Safdie Architect’s Jewel Changi Airport in Singapore. Their answer? Make the space an experience, make furnishings as high-performance as the products themselves, and—like any good athlete—ensure flexibility. Read more about this project

By in Shanghai by Spacemen

Millennials may prefer online shopping. “With the rise of giants like Alibaba, Taobao, and WeChat, a lot of retailers in China are converting to e-commerce,” architect Edward Tan concedes. But there’s a concurrent movement toward brick-and-mortar establishments, he adds: “Some online retailers are doing the exact opposite by building large experience stores.” When a mutual friend introduced Tan to fashion aficionado Warren Wang, Wang already had a good thing going. His online store, By, was well-known as a pioneer for bringing avant-garde labels to China’s booming e-commerce arena. To seal the deal, Wang hired Spacemen, Tan’s firm, to design a Shanghai store for By. Read more about this project

Chanel in Istanbul and Tokyo by Peter Marino

Talk about a banner year...and a half. That’s what it’s been for Interior Design Hall of Fame member Peter Marino and his longtime client Chanel—a col­laboration that’s a quarter century old, so far. Peter Marino Architect has just completed a renovation of the Paris flagship, near Coco Chanel’s original boutique, atelier, and apartment, and a renovation of a Chanel boutique in New York. And there’s more. Also recently opened are Istanbul and Tokyo, both projects extraordinary for their approach, he notes: “The number-one goal was not high-volume sales but image creation.” He therefore worked outside-in, starting with facades that are real showstoppers. Read more about this project

One-Off Emporium in Italy by Dimore Studio

Over the past decade, Dimore Studio has become one of the design world’s buzziest practices. Their interiors often bring together unusual color combinations, a wistful nostalgia, and striking originality. Dimore Studio’s latest project is One-Off, a 6,500-square-foot luxury womenswear boutique in Brescia, about an hour east of Milan. As the name suggests, the One-Off stores have the express aim of creating an exclusive shopping experience, both in merchandise and environment—the tag line is “Avant-garde. Ultra-creative. Curated.” Read more about this project

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