Sybarite’s design for the Marni flagship in Beijing marks a shift in the evolution of the concept, utilizing strong geometry and giving familiar elements a new twist. Backlit fibreglass boxes remain a central feature but the form has been squared off and enlarged, accommodating both shelving and hanging displays. Stainless steel rails and freestanding pieces maintain their sculptural fluidness but the forms are chunkier and slightly exaggerated, with large flat display surfaces referencing early Marni shops. A new family of velvet-clad seating appears, modular chunks cut from a round block. Optimizing flexibility within the space, all furniture is now freestanding and movable. Lighting is diffused through round ceiling cut-outs of various sizes, scattered randomly like coins dropped from your pocket.
The bold geometric motif was directly inspired by Marni’s latest collection, as was the earthy new palette, the one exception being the bright red slash of the staircase, a nod to the Chinese locality. Throughout, the walls are covered in bespoke wallpaper of interlocking octagons, the pattern repeated in the first floor carpeting and on the ground floor in oversize pale stone tiling. The paper’s soft yellow background is echoed in the plush rugs of the seating areas and the gloss lacquered walls which enclose the fitting rooms and service area.
The existing staircase was maintained, creating an interesting clash between its overtly industrial style and the polished sophistication of the remaining shop. Enormous stainless steel trees project through the double-height space while clusters of fibreglass mannequins hang throughout. Finished in black gloss, the facade is simple glazing, a frame for the drama within.
Architect: Sybarite | Simon Mitchell, Torquil McIntosh
Client: Marni | Consuelo & Gianni Castiglioni
Main Contractor: Edifice | Bert Ghys
Specialist Contractors: Paulman Metal Engineering | Ricky Wong
Photographer: Butsou Lai
Shop Area: 550 m2
Completed: August 2011