The site for a new shoe shop in Valletta presented a very limited volume (a 7x3m room at street level with an underlying basement) with a considerable challenge; the client’s brief demanded a display of 75 pairs of shoes and to store another 600. From the early sketches a vertical design approach was adopted, where space was conceived purely as access and consequently fragmented into one giant staircase combining display, seating, storage and all services into one element. We imagined clients walking up, down and around the stairs, picking their favourite shoe, sitting next to it and trying it on. The experience of being surrounded by the products, together with the constantly changing vistas while exploring the shop enhances both the shopper and the shopped in a surreal, stepped space.
Visitors on the crowded opening night flocked to buy the newly introduced Camper, Fornarina and Miss Sixty products. An artist commented that SHU has the scale of Japanese shoe-box architecture held together by detailed, traditional Maltese ornament.