Oki Sato’s Japanese studio Nendo is among those institutions that never cease to surprise and inspire us through their ever-evolving design vision and truly perfected holistic approach in their practice. The day before yesterday, to our great excitement, the studio succeeded to outstrip itself once again, presenting its biggest-ever project: the exterior and interior renovation of a department store in Bangkok that Sato believes represents a new way of shopping. Going by the name of Siam Discovery, the department store is operated by Thai retail and development company Siam Piwat, which invited Nendo to oversee the refurbishment of the interior and exterior of the 40.000 m² shopping mall on Bangkok’s Rama 1 thoroughfare. The studio was tasked with implementing a radical vision for a new retail experience built around curated environments rather than the familiar branded concessions. Instead of categorizing products by brand, as is typical in traditional department stores, the different retail points present customers with a range of lifestyle experiences, including a digital lab, street lab, creative lab and play lab. The result is very likely the first real peek into the future of (department / multibrand) retail in which a physical location will need to have this level of experience to not totally loose its relevance as has become the trend in the last decade. We would literally fly to Bangkok just to see this with our own eyes.
Sato speaking to Dezeen on the project:
The building is a new concept for retail. It’s a hybrid of a department store and a shopping mall, so there are tenants but there are also 13 self-curated retail points, which is what makes it different.
This lifestyle laboratory concept provided a theme which Nendo interpreted throughout the 13 spaces. Beakers, flasks, test tubes, diagrams of molecular structures and other laboratory equipment recur throughout the interior as motifs, emphasizing that the building is a space for creativity and experimentation. The existing department store building featured a narrow frontage and deep plan punctuated by several circular atriums. The designers connected these circulation spaces to create a canyon-like room that extends towards the rear and improves the customer flow. One side of the atrium is lined with 220 frame-shaped boxes containing video monitors, digital signage and merchandise displays that can function as a directory of what’s going on inside Siam Discovery.
Nendo’s intervention to the building’s exterior focused on enhancing its open and welcoming feel by creating as much space as possible around the glazed curtain walls. A patterned facade treatment that references the stacked boxes inside the atrium was added to protect the interior from the harsh sunlight. The retail points designed by Nendo include a space for electronics featuring displays that reference microscopes. Their lens-like forms provide surfaces for displaying merchandise illuminated by integrated lighting.
This is definitely the biggest project we’ve ever done. It took us about two years and it was totally different [from previous projects], it was a big challenge for us. It was as if we’ve been cooking small dishes and suddenly we had to make a full dinner.
If this iconic creation by Nendo is to be placed within the food metaphor, in our eyes the new Siam Discovery is cutting edge 3-Michelin-star haute cuisine of (interior) design.
Our minds are blown…
When in Bangkok Siam Discovery is the undisputed must visit from now on. The department store is located at 989 Rama 1 Rd. in Bangkok, opened every day from 10:00 until 22:00.
For more inspirational work by Nendo see here
For everything concerning Siam Discovery see here