A spatial sculpture as a fashion gallery
Fine fashions in an atmosphere defined by sculpturally conceived concrete architecture – this is how Glenn Sestig Architects from Ghent presented the label of their fellow Belgian Raf Simons at his flagship store in London’s Dover Street Market back in 2016. They designed an expansive collection of in-built shelves using projecting concrete blocks, which they contrasted with a multicolored cubic glass insert by artist Germans Ermičs.
With their new project, a store for exclusive designer shoes in the center of Antwerp, the architects have gone one step further. Behind a historical façade emerged a concrete structure described by architect Glenn Sestig as “a three-dimensional brutalist sculpture in which the presentation of shoes is just one of many possible aspects”.
After all, the store operators, who have long been integral to Antwerp’s art and fashion scene, want to be able to use their shop as a gallery space too. To do so, all they need to do is clear away the easily movable or collapsible furniture. Then the precisely finished concrete surfaces of the ceiling, walls and floor and the light-grey wall panels will offer the perfect backdrop for exhibitions. The block-like cash desks alone, which get their color from Dinesen purple wood oil, are a stand-out feature.
Virtually the whole outfit was designed especially for this project by Glenn Sestig Architects. Hence, for example, the seats of the chairs and stools are slightly higher than usual, to make it easier to try on shoes, while the wooden substructure is slightly set back in order to protect it from being damaged by the heels of new shoes. In fact, the design of the seating was immediately so well received that an entire product series has now been developed under the name “Lloyd”.
In order to present the shoes in the right light, a sophisticated lighting concept was created. The “Expression” ceiling spotlight designed by Glenn Sestig himself came from the range of Belgian manufacturer 100% Light. It was produced with grey outer varnish and rose-gold interior for the first time especially for this project. In contrast, the shelf elements boast integrated LED strips for dazzle-free illumination of the goods.
The perfectionism of Glenn Sestig Architects in the design of the store reaches such an extent that surveillance cameras have been incorporated into the design of the ceiling lights and even the socket boards. To put it in the architects’ words: “When it came to creating the right atmosphere, we wanted to leave nothing to chance.”