In its new shops for the fashion brand – including two in Los Angeles – the Tokyo studio looked to urban planning to direct the flow of customers.
Theory is known for its impeccable suiting – pencil skirts, shifts and jackets – in neutral shades of black, white, navy and grey. So it’s no surprise the fashion brand commissioned the minimalist yet playful Tokyo studio Nendo to design its shop interiors in Los Angeles, Paris, London, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo and Osaka, all of which are unique but unified by a pared-down colour palette, geometric hanging framework and gallery-like ambiance.
Working to merge a New York loft feel with a clear-cut plan for easy movement throughout each store, Nendo looked to city streets for inspiration. Says the firm: “By coming up with a circulation plan as an urban planner might locate new roads within a city, we made careful provisions for people to flow into the shop naturally and move smoothly around it.”
Integrating a “road system” into each shop, Nendo created clear spots to linger – think plaza-like displays, park-inspired seating areas and larger than normal dressing rooms with buffers between each stall – and connected the spaces with the infrastructure surrounding them.
At the London shop, for example, eight-metre-long tables match traffic flow and the main thoroughfare leads right out of the store and onto the crosswalk outside; in one of the Paris shops, entrances on two walls and a curved interior “short cut” between them make the most of the corner lot and a stage for mannequins resembles a river delta.
Among the most recently completed projects, the two L.A. locations include a shop on Melrose Avenue comprised of three connected industrial-style buildings with three entrances that allow customers to enter the ring of movement at various spots, almost like a roundabout. On North Beverly, a huge window display of mannequins pulls customers into the sparsely clad space, outfitted with tables running down the centre to direct traffic in a loop and into a smaller display area at the back.
“Together, these touches allowed us to respond to the different demands placed on the shop space,” says the firm, “while creating new flows of people that may, we hope, flow out into and color the city space around the shops, too.”