A Retail Store Making A Chromatic Direction Towards Pastels And Patterns | Portico Design Concepts
Pehnawa is a retail store project that was completed in Aurangabad just as the strictures posed by the pandemic began to relax. It is three (G+2) storey, a reasonably spacious 5,400- square-foot area and a triple-height entry gave the architects enough room to explore a striking, eye-catching retail design replete with colors, textures, and diverse materiality. The products being retailed included women’s wear, contemporary clothing for men, and ethnic menswear.
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When the architects were handed over the ground + 2 site, the civil work was already over. In effect, they received the site as a bare shell. Other than specifying how the different types of fashion wear would be segregated floor-wise (see next point) and the fact that the tables that would seat customers to mull over intended purchases be white (to best set off the colors of the garments), the clients gave a carte blanche to the architects where material usage and the overall look & feel were concerned.
The ground + 2 structure has a triple-height volume at the front with the rest of the floor plates being singular entities without any further demarcations. The lofty volume functions as a waiting lounge and billing area. The levels were used to segregate the merchandise as follows: the ground floor was devoted to women’s wear (girls and ladies); the first floor to men’s wear; and the last floor to men’s ethnic wear.
The Triple-Height Volume
The compact footprint of the triple-height volume created an entity that was exaggeratedly linear. To reduce this skew while not actually physically cutting down the size, the architects created a cascading lighting installation of aluminum frames suspended at various heights (some hanging till first-floor eye-level) to break the soaring feel. Profile lights were added to the frames to add drama and a play of light and aid with the general illumination of the space. To ‘erase’ the mess of lines formed by the rectangular frames, the design team added infills of corrugated GI sheets — which were repeated in the wall paneling of the volume (GI sheets presented an economical alternative to creating the texture with punning and POP). This striking atrium design adds its own muscle to the elevation of the showroom.
The billing desk stands in the triple-height atrium. A black frame-like element, set off beautifully by the background of terracotta bricks, is rendered from tiles. It wraps around the desk and transforms into a table-top on the other side. The wall behind the billing desk sees an added detailing of patterned MDF, which is carried forward to the ceilings of the store, but as a POP design.
Opposite the desk, a slim, contemporary display rack presents snippets of collections available at the expansive showroom. A bench provides a comfortable perch to customers as they wait for the billing to be done, while a potted plant on the slatted table adds a refreshing touch and breaks the monotony of colors. The table, bench, and rack were custom-made on site.
The Main Retail Sections
The merchandise is displayed on open metal shelves whose gently-rounded corners provide a subtle, yet perceptible contrast to the straight-lined geometry that dominates the visual flavor. Strangely enough, given the rich and more complicated details that abound, it was getting these contours right that proved to be the challenge of the assignment — one that saw two fabricators throw in the towel and took the best part of two months to complete! The display tables are of two types: closed ones with white back-painted glass tops and open ones with under-counter hangers and clear-glass tops.
Here and there, smaller display units, almost like occasional tables, dot the floors. Mirrored expanses, delicately beveled with geometric patterns, amplify the contemporary ambiance as well as serve as looking glasses (in addition to the mandatory trial rooms of course, which are tucked discreetly to a side). A definite highlight is in the men’s ethnic section, where a circular, mirrored, outlined-with-light wall element with an abridged catwalk in front creates a striking spatial pause, besides providing the right environment to contemplate a purchase.
The Visual Aesthetic
Corrugated GI sheets, vitrified tiles, back-painted and clear glass, mirrors, exposed clay- bricks, and mild steel form the leading materials. While the chromatic direction was decided as pastels accented with black lines, the surface finishes included textures and patterns, both visual and tactile. Essentially, the architects sought a cool, contemporary scheme that was offset with swathes of warmth woven via exposed brick expanses on select sections of walls and the floor. A bespoke floor design, crafted out of regular vitrified tiles, signals thrift and the desire to achieve cohesive detailing. The overall impression is space-filled geometric patterns — the lines of exposed bricks, the corrugations of the GI sheets, the rhomboids of the bespoke mosaic floors, the grid-like POP patterns on the ceiling, the cut- glass-like bevelling on the mirrors.
Design Firm: Portico Design Concepts
Project Name: Pehnawa
Project Type: Retail
Completion Year: 2020
Area: 5400 sq. ft.
Project Cost approx: 1.2 cr.
Lead Architect: Ar. Shruti Tanwani & Ar. Gopal Tanwani
Project Location: Aurangabad, India.