In March 2021, LOOKNOW saw the grand opening of its second and flagship store in Shanghai’s Xintiandi phase 2 on Madang Road. Setting up at a location that is known as the heart of Xintiandi and the center of the latest trends marks an all new voyage for LOOKNOW. The Xintiandi location’s interior design is completed by Sò Studio in collaboration with OUI’s lighting design team.
From a spatial aesthetics point of view, LOOKNOW’s new flagship store is in itself a piece of living artwork. Instead of overhauling the layout of the original building, some elements of the past were kept, including exposed brick walls and structural steel and traces of the decorations that were put in place by previous owners.
On top of that, creative new elements were introduced. Abandoned pipes were rearranged and turned into racks for handbags. Designers picked out seemingly random rocks from the quarry and made them pedestals out of them. In this very space, the designers have hidden antique doors that serve both an aesthetic and functional purpose at different places. Balancing the diffuse reflection from the various materials and creating enough breathing room for the merchandise became a delicious challenge the OUI lighting designers had the pleasure of dealing with.
There is always something interesting to be found in this space. For example, the designers painted the walls unevenly on purpose, in order to create a peeling or crackling look. The store also intentionally blurs the boundary between used and new by re-purposing used materials in new designs, thus creating a style that is unique to LOOKNOW. The space, then, becomes a vessel for stories that the used materials carry with them. But the old stories are told in creative ways that incidentally matches the overall theme of Xintiandi.
Another keyword for the new location is “resident-in”, meaning recreating the conditions of where the artists actually lived.Unlike the other LOOKNOW stores, lots of wood, warm yellow colors, and low temperature lighting are used at the Xintiandi location to generate a warm and friendly ambiance. The low-key and tuned-down choices of color make the space feel comfortable and private. The differences between different zones inside the store is also something that makes it special. Each zone is decorated with a distinct theme or function to house merchandise that fit the theme best, such as a powder room, a walk-in closet, a lounge area etc.
Something essential to an artist’s home are, obviously, beautiful artworks. A huge mirror with neon green embossed frame, a standing lamp that looks like a launch pad, a chaise lounge with the texture of an oil painting... these unique artworks working together gives the store its characteristic charm.
OUI approached the lighting design for LOOKNOW in 4 steps. First, lots of simple tube lights installed on the exposed ceiling to light up the entire space. Then, track lights, reflector lights, and spotlights, with OUI’s PRISM series as the main product, are used to highlight the merchandise. After that, numerous indirect sources of lights are introduced for ambiance, making the space quite the gentle. For example, long strip lights are used on top of the yellow structure at the entrance. Special fabrics are used to reflect the light and brighten up the entire room. Last but not least, OUI employed RGBW color changeable lights for distinguishing the different zones. Colored lights bring more details to the space and add ambiance to festivals and special events.
In Sò Studio’s design, lighting an integral part of the space. The mixing and mingling of different lights, artworks, and designs transform the LOOKNOW Xintiandi flagship store into a one of a kind living space. Although it is not meant to be lived in, it presents what a lived-in space looks like. It uses and guides light and tells the story of a lived-in space. It provides an immersive experience of a story that we are all familiar with.
Pay attention to the use of space, be proficient in lighting to create an indoor atmosphere, and integrate modern techniques and fitting elements into each design space.