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On Display: Designing the Shop Experience – new exhibition at Design Museum Brussels
On Display: Designing the shop experience showcases how interior architecture has both changed over time and reflected changes in society.
In different sections, the exhibition covers how boutiques with a 19th-century classical style, adopted a more modernistic approach towards the end of the 20th century. Throughout, high quality photographs of the original stores and interior designs offer a unique view of the past.
Historical pieces collected from around the world join selected exhibits from the museum’s own collection. They’re displayed meticulously, complementing the designer and period each represents. Curator Benjamin Stoz benefitted from a large exhibition space, enabling him to show larger pieces, such as the Kawakubo desk from a Comme des Garçons store. The variety of chairs on display is impressive, highlighting designers’ abilities to play around with complex designs in order to enhance the look of their stores.
However, it isn’t just the change in interior design that the exhibition focuses on, but the materials themselves. In the experimentation section, young designers at the start of the 20th century, such as René Herbst, known as the father of modern art in France, started to combine new materials in order to give a futuristic industrial look to designs. Polished glass, plywood and stainless steel became a new way to experiment and overhaul the traditional look of boutiques.
Later on, new designs like the Retti candle shop’s unusual aluminium entrance by Hans Hollein (pictured above), and Adriano Olivetti’s focus on showcasing new technologies, including the Valentine portable typewriter, took the world by storm.
Hollein’s plans, image of the store’s futuristic interior architecture and a smaller recreation of the entrance are impressive, considering it was built in 1966 and surrounded in Vienna by neo-classical architecture. The original Valentine portable typewriter, in pristine condition, is also on display, alongside the advert from 1969.
These later sections show how rapidly stores turned towards a more modernistic approach to replicate society’s integration of pop culture. Of course, since the advent of online commercial platforms in the 21st century, the shopping experience has lost some of its significance.
A tour of the exhibition by Benjamin Stoz is available on 16 October.
On Display: Designing the shop experience
Until 5 March
Design Museum Belgium
Place de la Belgique 1 (Laeken)
Photos: (main and second image) Interior views of the W. & L.T, Wild and Lethal Trash Shop,1998, B-bis architecten and Marc Newson (1963) © Daniel Nicolas; Elevation of the Retti candle shop – 1966 - Kohlmarkt 10, Wien - Hans Hollein (1934-2014) - © Franz Hubmann Private archive Hollein; Front of the Bubble Shop - ca 1969 Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Paris Christian Girard (1926-2008) © Nicolas Girard