Every time British fashion designer Karen Millen opens a new store, she insists that it be one of a kind. Now that her chain has grown to 50 stores all over the United Kingdom, Paris, Monaco, the Middle East and Singapore, the challenge of coming up with something new and different escalates.
Opening on Brompton Road in the Knighstbridge section of London made the designer/retailer a neighbor of Harrods and Harvey Nichols. It called for the biggest statement yet. And so, says London store designer Adam Brinkworth, "we broke many of the historical rules of retailing."
First, the store entrance was located not on the Brompton Road store frontage, but in an alleyway around the side. A light hovers over the entrance, constantly changing color to beckon customers in.
Next, the storefront was covered with a two-story glass facade -- the tallest shop window in Knightsbridge -- which is in turn covered with an opaque film that becomes clear as shoppers approach and pass the store. At night, the retailer has turned the vinyl film into a projection screen, and commissioned films from local art students that are shown to the Knightsbridge evenings.
Client Team: Karen Millen, Maidstone, England -- Kevin Stanford, development and planning; Sarah Capp, manager of visual merchandising
Design Team: Brinkworth, London -- Adam Brinkworth, director; Silka Gebhardt, project director; Mick Kelly, job captain
Outside Consultants: Central St. Martins College of Art, London -- Hanna Werning, Ramiro Oblitas, Valerie Sthal and Nadia Otzen (projections)
Suppliers: M.M. Kelly Building Services, Hove, E. Sussex (ceiling); Brinkworth, London (fixturing/furniture/mannequins and forms); Isis, Crayford, England (terrazzo flooring/wallcoverings); Naturally Wood, Loughton, England (walnut flooring); Simon Wolford, London (graphics); Syntec, London (lighting); Benchmark, Abridge, England (laminates); Sign Services, Maiostone, England (signage)
Photography: Richard Davies, London