Architecture on Display: 13 captivating installations unveiled for the RIBA Regent Street Windows Project, 7th-27th September

This week, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) unveils the concept designs for 13 unique installations that will bring to life 13 shop windows along Regent Street as part of the annual RIBA Windows Project, which will take place 7th – 27th September, 2015.

Now in its sixth year, the RIBA Regent Street Windows Project pairs exceptional RIBA architects with flagship retailers to create engaging architectural installations in their shop windows. Fashion retailers, skincare boutiques, perfumeries, restaurants and cafes have given over their display to bring architecture into their stores and reach new audiences with these crafted interventions. The project creates a huge public architecture exhibition seen by more than one million people each week.

From fabric forests to kaleidoscopic reflections; lenticular walls to flocks of tailored cloth, this year’s installations bend the very notion of display and have challenged architects to work with retailers to interrogate their brands, their history and their windows to produce an architectural installation that captures the imagination of passers-by and customers alike.

Owen Wainhouse, Interim Director of RIBA’s London Region, said:

“The Windows Project gives architecture practices of various scales an opportunity to flex their creative muscles and work more experimentally on a less traditional brief.

“It’s testament to these collaborations between retailers and architects that the Regent Street Windows Project has become an important event in the architectural calendar. It allows participating shops to work directly with a profession that can offer a different perspective on space and enables them to reach new audiences and surprising outcomes.

“Our partnership with Regent Street Association has meant that this year, the project is at the centre of the Regent Street Design and Fashion Month. Once again, we’re thrilled to be giving exposure to some of London’s most exciting and creative architects.”

This year’s windows will be installed overnight on Sunday 6th September. The exhibition will run for three weeks from Monday 7th September – Sunday 27th September, coinciding with both the London Design Festival and London Fashion Week.

The following retailers and architects are participating in this year’s project:

L’Occitane by Coppin Dockray Architects
L’Occitane en Provence has a strong association with the south of France and its evocative landscapes. Not only a place of bright colours and vivid scents, it is also the source of inspiration for the brand’s products and where its natural ingredients are sourced. Coppin Dockray Architects has created an abstraction of this unique environment, using the kaleidoscope as a metaphor for how the Expressionist masters drew the Provençal landscape. This simple and naïve tool employs mirrors to draw in light, colour and the focus on to its centre piece: the new skincare product in L’Occitane’s Immortelle collection, launched to coincide with the windows project. Harnessing the shifting daylight reflected in the shop window, the installation will create ever-changing scenery.

Hotel Café Royal by Citizens Design Bureau
Coinciding with the 150th anniversary of the legendary Café Royal, Citizens Design Bureau has designed vertical festoons of golden letters and macaroons to fill the Regent Street window display. Inspired by the opulent colours of the café’s cakes and by Art Nouveau-era afternoon tea parties, the display will allude to the Bohemian history of an establishment that boasts rock stars, royalty, artists, writers, politicians and sports stars among its patrons.

Karen Millen by HASSELL
A swirling mass of printed fabric will create a magical wonderland across the entire 30m of Karen Millen’s shop windows. Moving in and out of the spaces, weaving along the floor and extending into an overhead canopy, the structure will explore drapery and the cut and fall of cloth using key printed fabrics created in the brand’s in-house Atelier and that feature in Karen Millen’s new collection. Camouflaging some mannequins while others seem to break free of the space, HASSELL’s design celebrates the brand’s femininity and the very craftsmanship that lies at the heart of the fashion industry.

Armani Exchange by Shiro Studio
Shiro Studio’s concept draws inspiration from the novel by Italian Nobel Prize winner Luigi Pirandello, One, No One and One Hundred Thousand. The novel explores how reality and self-awareness is often illusory, relative, subjective and expressive of personal interpretation. This led Shiro Studio to conceive of a pleated mirrored wall stretching the entire length of the main window. Clothes, people, Regent Street merge to create a kaleidoscopic visual experience. The multitude and complexity of reflections represents the core narrative of self-perception, projection and transformation.

Hamleys by Office S&M
Celebrating Hamleys’ 225th anniversary, Office S&M’s design leads both adult and child to discover the store’s tremendous lineage and their part within it. The display holds a series of optical illusions, anamorphic distortions and an Ames room that children can peer into. Once a main attraction in Victorian travelling circuses with children queuing for a glimpse into the worlds within these magical boxes, here, the magic will only be seen by the child, while adults will see the confusing mechanism behind the trick. In this way, both adult and child might realise that they are both part of the ongoing story of Hamleys, which is passed from generation to generation.

Anthropologie by EPR Architects
Anthroplogie’s displays are dedicated to hand making and craft, using and rearranging materials to form captivating shapes and displays. Inspired by this approach, EPR Architects, with Vertikal Space and the Materials Council, have explored how left-over space can create a dynamic, engaging installation that references the seasonal range of the brand. Having interrogated a range of materials from concrete canvas to fibre optics, EPR will use a simple natural recyclable material to fill the window and create a surprising space by scooping and carving it out.

Penhaligon’s by Space Group Architects
Blasted: A Delusional Illusion.
Penhaligon’s is launching two new perfumes. To celebrate the occasion, Space Group Architects has analysed these and designed two spaces based on the aromas – a built interpretation of a smell. The scents are inspired by the British coastline and come with an array of raw and natural notes. The result will be two immersive, multi-sensory spaces that create an abstracted illusion of the very characteristics of the aromas and the environment that they were inspired by. These include rain, fog, moss, bark, light, sound and the bottled fragrances themselves.

Crabtree and Evelyn by London Atelier
“Omnia explorate, meliora retinete.”
“Explore everything, Keep the best.” John Evelyn
Inspired by Crabtree and Evelyn’s history and traditions, London Atelier has devised a concept that reflects the rich and mesmerising visual language of the Still Room and Herbarium. The design takes its cue from the materiality of the sketchbooks and the tracing paper used for botanical drawings; the detail of the varied herbs and plants; the smells and textures of remedies and potions, and the curious and magical nature of the boxes containing recipes and mixes. The display will choreograph an ensemble of herbs, plants and flowers preserved in bars of soap set within a brass grid and lit from behind by a comforting, pulsing light.

Hawes and Curtis by Nick Wood, How About Studio and Gillian Lambert
For this project, Nick Wood, How About Studio and Gillian Lambert have taken inspiration from the contrast between the formal and casual range of Hawes and Curtis, and combined this with their own interest in offering a visually immersive experience for passers-by. A lenticular wall constructed from garments creates two specific viewpoints on the street, one for each of the two distinct looks. The journey in-between these vantage points will combine these images to provide an ever-changing collage.

Kiehl’s by Michaelis Boyd Associates
The Universe of Kiehl’s is a vision of the intersection between science and nature. Inspired by the rich heritage and unique personality of the brand, the installation will interpret and bring to life the unfolding story of Kiehl’s. Tapping into its apothecary roots since 1851 and its use of natural and unique ingredients, Michaelis Boyd Associates began by composing a language of scientific structures that reflect the brand’s passionate and adventurous approach to experiments and discovery. This led to a design that will offer a colourful, eye-catching, eclectic and explosive experience.

Longchamp by LDVC
Inspired by the iconic Longchamp bag, Le Pliage Heritage, LDVC has created an elegant floating mobile that engages with the bag’s shape and its elements on various scales, and will playfully integrate the product into the installation. The characteristic black handle of the Heritage bag will take on a chandelier form, while the body will be recreated by a field of stylised Heritage bags in semi-transparent materials, which will be layered to create constantly changing transparencies, reflections and visual experiences for people passing by and entering the shop.

Brooks Brothers by Conran and Partners
Brooks Brothers, America’s oldest clothing retailer,
is best known for its rich heritage of textile innovation and inspiring entrepreneurial style. During a British game of Polo, Brooks Brothers discovered the button-down collar, famously introduced it to men’s tailoring and developed it into a true icon of fashion. Conran and Partners is using the button-down collar as a symbol of Brooks Brothers’ innovation through a hand-crafted installation evocative of flight.

Levi’s by AMD Interior Architecture
Engaged in creating retail spaces that focus on brand, atmosphere and detail, AMD have been developing a connected and immersive environment for Levi’s flagship London store. By extending the window display into the shop and out on to the street, AMD’s design will be an all-encompassing experience for the customer, incorporating moving imagery, sound and sculptural elements to draw people into the store and engage them on a journey through its spaces.