This project started with a very constricted request from the astute client, we were sitting in a café and she asked: “can you design few simple and functional furniture for our existing store in shanghai? I want to replace some of the tables I placed there and keep all the rest unchanged”; the request didn’t sound very alluring to me; I’m the architect type always trying to create spaces with strong identities using clear and invasive ideas and to do that I need to have full control of the space! So before answering I took time drinking my juice and started to picture in my mind a way to seduce her with a simple furniture idea that will insinuate in her mind so to slowly enforce her to replace all the existing store with a brand new design made with my humble and sneaky furniture.This is china, sometimes you have to make a design just during the time needed drinking a fruit juice! And fortunately the image arrived clear in my mind: using the wooden cubes I used to play with when I was a kid to create the new store concept, each cube will contain a function, is simple and invasive, perfect! I was sure she will be seduced and I accepted the project.
After the client accepted our concept the first thing we discovered was that the budget was too exiguous to make the cubes made of wood and this gave us thebeautiful opportunity to use bamboo to build everything. We used three kind of bamboo products so to give variety to the many cubes: a ply bamboo with an almost uniform light color, a herringbone bamboo board, mostly used in china for construction sites partitions, and finally bamboo pulp boards to create the dark interior shelfs where to display the accessories inside the main cubes.
Now there was just a problem, all those bamboo cubes will never pass the fire bureau inspection… but we are in china and as I discovered later corruption sometimes can turn in our favor!
Finally the factory built a big number of cubes of different sizes, from the bigger ones containing the kitchen or the fitting rooms to the medium ones containing the clothes and accessories or sofas and small resting areas or the cashier and reception area, to the small ones used as bench or tables, to the very small ones used to display jewelries and create construction games on the reception desk.
The concept is very simple and turned out to be very successful because of its big flexibility: most of the cubes can be moved easily so to crate different configurations each season and exactly like a kid construction game they can be placed one on top of the other so to create a three dimensional surrounding display of products. Is also a concept that can easily be repeated in any kind of space and layout and the cubes can be transported easily to open new Alter stores around China.