- Year / 2008
Store front: LA
Working with H&M has enabled the most extensive use of the folded forms Barber & Osgerby have developed within the studio. This project was carried out by their architectural studio, Universal. The studio was set up in 2001 to work alongside Barber & Osgerby, to have expertise in interior and exhibition design as well as architecture: interpreting brands into three-dimensional spaces. The close collaboration with global brands and the creative direction that these large-scale projects can offer is particularly gratifying.
H&M tends to acquire retail sites around the world based upon location rather than architectural merit. Universal and Barber & Osgerby were commissioned to give these buildings a real character so that they became recognisable landmarks on the high street.
Initially Universal were asked to consider a design for a large, five-storey facade for a new store in Hong Kong. It was felt that that the result should reflect what H&M are about; fashion, fabric and clothing, and also their geographic origin: Sweden. Both studios worked to produce a simple folded aluminium cladding that referenced a kind of pleated fabric yet also felt Scandinavian, like a glacier or an iceberg.
Hong Kong, being equatorial, loses daylight in early evening all year round, which coincides with the peak of after-work shopping time. So that the facade would not be lost in the twilight, a series of backlit perforations were developed. This helped not only to draw attention to the facade but also to accentuate the folded nature of the aluminium. The first built project turned out to be on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, rather than Hong Kong. The scale was adjusted, but the cladding was implemented as originally hoped. Universal continue their collaboration with H&M and, over the past few years, have evolved the concept to work on new flagship projects in Japan, China, Korea and USA.