With its motto of “no stores, no middleman,” it may seem surprising that London designer-furniture brand Made (not to be confused with the Toronto design store of the same name) has opened a flagship in the city’s Soho district. Though the bulk of its made-to order business has previously been done online, the brand has in the recent past devised a few creative ways to establish a physical presence in the city. These include providing the furnishings for Shoreditch social enterprise Trampery (where the shared workspaces display the products Made sells) and opening up its own offices to the public. But last week Made unveiled its first, standalone showroom on Chairing Cross Road, just a hop, skip and a jump from the Tottenham Court furniture district.
Designed by local firm Bureau de Change, the shop experience begins with the intriguing façade, its air of mystery a counterpoint to the street’s competing retail window displays. Rather than offer a direct view inside, the street-facing windows feature impressions of the most recognizable Made products, formed with thousands of clear plastic rods – an effect inspired by PinArt desktop toys.
Space is at a premium in a high street location, so the architects maximized on the floor space by creating display areas demarked by curving white walls. The curve is reminiscent of a page in a book – a nod to the street’s literary history. Full-scale projections of products are shown on the wall, so patrons have the opportunity to see a wider range of pieces than the physical showroom stocks, as well as variations and add-ons to furnishings on display – like a variety of virtual side tables for a floor-model sofa.
A large selection of sample and swatches allows customers to get a better feel for the pieces that are only displayed digitally. Customers who prefer to order online will be right at home, too – tablets are available to get details on the company’s full catalogue, or to make orders, which can also be done from one of several iMac stations scattered throughout.