Islands in the sun

as featured in
Working from just a name and a vacant site, the designers of this store created a retail paradise and a whole new shopping experience
View of the polished concrete flooring in the flooring, interior design, lobby, shopping mall, brown, orange
View of the polished concrete flooring in the mall, alot of seating, walls made up of logs, corrugated steel walls and ceiling, spot lights in the ceiling, many accessories and ornaments, plants.

The competitive nature of the retail industry today makes it more important than ever for stores to have a signature look. Creating a point of difference not only makes a retail outlet stand out; it also ensures the shopping experience is fun and memorable.

Such a brief was given to the design team from Rezzuan, Yeoh & Ong (RYO), the company commissioned to design the new Archipelago store for Putrajaya Holdings in Kuala Lumpur.

Architect Eric Ong says the store needed to showcase a selection of products from the Malay Archipelago, including fashion, arts and crafts, perfumes, home decor and various delicatessen items. The store also needed to house a cafe.

"In terms of the design, the only things we had to work with were the space itself, which is approximately 800m², and the name," says Ong. "The name provided the inspiration. Much as it suggests, Archipelago is designed as a collection of islands that make up a retail paradise."

Ong says the space was divided up into 12 retail areas, each with its own identity. These are linked by a unifying sea, which is represented by the flooring a swirling pattern of sand-coloured pebbles interspersed with mosaic tiles.

View of some shops in the mall, polished wood, brown
View of some shops in the mall, polished concrete floor, walls made of logs, many accessories.

"The pebbles are reminiscent of the water's edge, while the mosaic tile pattern evokes a memory of the sea and waves, and the constant movement of the water."

Polished timber flooring is also used to visually connect the different areas. Ong says this flooring is designed to convey the sense of crossing a bridge moving from one threshold to another.

To extend the architectural metaphor further, the designers dotted the "sea" with floating platforms of pebbles set within stainless steel trays. These display islands feature tall, roughly hewn logs of bakau a local swamp tree. The bark has been stripped to expose the raw, knotty wood, which enhances the rustic feel of the fit-out.

"The logs are arranged in groups, like clusters of trees. They also create screens that help define the separate retail islands," says Ong. "Their raw look is a strong contrast to the smooth oak veneers of the display cabinets and shelving."

Each retail island is further defined by the ceiling treatment. White plastered ceilings float like clouds over the islands, while strip-metal ceilings hint at open skies beyond.

View of the stainless steel and pebbled reception boutique, furniture, interior design, lobby, brown, orange
View of the stainless steel and pebbled reception counter, polished concrete floor, glass cabinetry, wooden shelving, many ornaments, plants.

Contrasting textures also come into play in other areas. Several plastered walls have a combed, ripple texture, suggestive of wind-blown sand, and the main counter features white pebble panels, framed by raw stainless steel.

The use of stainless steel on the counter, the island trays, and at the side of display units adds a contemporary edge. This was a deliberate move to ensure the fit-out retains a modern feel, says Ong.

"Despite the many rustic and raw elements, the store is finely detailed to exude an overall ambiance of modern chic," he says. "The various elements are also controlled and co-ordinated to provide an interesting, but not overpowering, backdrop to the products on display."

Apr 12, 2006

Credit list

Putrajaya Holdings
Main contractor
Road Builder (M)
Pebblewash from More Decor; glass mosaic accent from Bisazza
Oak veneer; white pebble panels; stainless steel
Retail consultant
DTZ Debenham Tie Leung (M)
Interior contractor
LCL Furniture
Aluminium strip and fibrous plaster
Other materials
Bakau logs; textured plaster walls
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