Project Of The Week – Robinsons
This week’s instalment of the #SBIDinspire interior design series features the prodigious and monumentally ambitious project of introducing the Robinsons department store to one of the most alluring cities of the Middle East and distinguished shopping destinations of the United Arab Emirates.
Iconic Singapore department store Robinsons made its debut in the Middle East in Spring 2017 with the launch of a spectacular 200,000 square foot store at Dubai Festival City —the first of a collection of stores to follow in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council). HMKM drew inspiration from Robinsons’ roots — in particular, from Singapore’s lush terrain and contemporary architecture. That dynamic runs through every aspect of the design, starting with dramatic facades which blend vertical gardens by renowned French botanist Patrick Blanc, animated screens and interlacing lines of timber and polished brass. Built around a series of spectacular hero experiences, the store’s design creates a distinctive new identity for Robinsons in the Middle East, celebrating its rich Singaporean heritage while looking firmly to the future.
Project Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
What was the client’s brief?
To create a store of inspirations! The aim was to build the largest department store in the region, at 200,000 sqft. with 600 local, regional and international brands. The first of a collection of stores to follow in the GCC. Robinsons was to offer three magnificent floors of contemporary and designer fashion, food, art and culture experiences. From 90 exclusive brands to a number of multi-tiered premium services, guests will delight in an immersive journey making each visit more enchanting than the last. Almost 160 years after it was first established, iconic Singapore department store Robinsons will arrive in the Middle East with the launch of a spectacular store of inspiration at Dubai Festival City.
What inspired the design of the project?
HMKM’s vision draws its inspiration from Robinsons’ roots — in particular, from Singapore’s blend of green landscapes and edgy contemporary architecture — to produce a scheme founded on the notion of a future landscape. That dynamic runs through every aspect of the design, starting with a series of dramatic external and internal facades which blend large-scale animated screens with sinuous, interlacing lines of timber, bronze anodised aluminium and polished brass, alongside the large-scale vertical garden walls and columns by world renowned visionary botanist designer, Patrick Blanc. Throughout the interior, contemporary forms and digital elements are balanced with warm materials and lush planting.
What was the toughest hurdle your team overcame during the project?
How do you create a 200,000 sqft new department store in a unique and inspiring way? The answer was to employ a boutique design approach to the whole store design providing bespoke backdrops to the 600 brands, 90 of which are exclusive to Robinsons and including the first John Lewis to the region. A rich palette of materials and craftsmanship were employed throughout the store. For example in Menswear, the department is centred on a central pavilion defined by a slatted oak ceiling raft and fleshed out with herringbone leather panelled walls, end-grain oak flooring, warm lacquers and dark metal frames. In Beauty, the department presents a studio-style make-up zone framed in shimmering metal, centred under a bespoke geometric light installation and floored in honed Palissandro Classico and Kalliston marbles. Fragrance gets a softer feel, with rich marble and brass textures, soft Deco chandeliers and plush seating. In designing and planning the store, significant areas are dedicated to exceptional customer service including specialist tailoring suites for male and female local dress; bespoke printing, a cobbler, and personal shopping.
What was your team’s highlight of the project?
Realising the Boutique design to each of the category departments within a store of this size. Built around a series of spectacular hero experiences, its design creates an immediate, distinctive new identity for Robinsons within the Middle East, reflecting and celebrating its rich Singaporean heritage whilst looking ahead firmly to the future.
Why did you enter the SBID International Design Awards?
We are exceptionally proud to have been part of this well executed Robinsons store in the Middle East. The SBID awards, in particular the retail category, reflects the quality and prestige befitting this project.
Questions answered by Paul Digby, Creative Director at HMKM.
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If you missed last week’s Project of the Week with Portview Fit-Out for Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge, click here to see more
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