The Conran Shop has filled two floors of a former car park with design-focused furnishings and objects for the home in Gangnam, Seoul, which is its 12th branch.
The 2,229 square metres, The Conran Shop takes over two floors of an old multi-storey car park connected to Gangnam’s Lotte Department Store.
Although the retailer already has a number of branches dotted across Japan and Paris, its Seoul location is meant to provide an “on-the-ground connection to one of the world’s most exciting emerging design scenes”.
Founder Terence Conran described the move to South Korea as a “pivotal moment” for the company.
“There is a level of creative energy in Korea right now that reminds me of Japan 20 years ago,” said the retailer’s CEO, Hugh Wahla.
“The market is growing exponentially in importance and sophistication across many areas, including tech, fashion, music, architecture and design,” he continued.
“Along with that comes an understanding and demand for sophisticated design around furniture and living that is currently untapped. The time is right for us to partner with Korea – we’re looking forward to ideas flowing both ways.”
Terence Conran’s eponymous architecture and design practice worked with The Conran Shop’s in-house creative team to develop the interiors. The team wanted to form a “yin and yang-like balance” between the store’s two levels, with each floor having a unique but complementary fit-out.
On the ground floor, which is dedicated to lifestyle products, almost every surface has been painted white. This creates a neutral canvas against which different design collections can be presented throughout the year.
Flashes of colour are provided by a series of wall murals, each composed of brightly-hued abstract shapes which nod to The Conran Shop’s packaging.
One of the murals was created by British designer John Booth, who has also curated a selection of products for the store, among them are his own face-shaped ceramic vases and a handful of hand-painted Alvar Aalto stools.
The retailer is hoping that after becoming more “entrenched” in the surrounding area as a design destination, it can begin to offer more pieces from local creatives.
“This is an exciting time for us to become a part of the Korean design scene – it’s fast becoming a hub of style and design and has already developed an exciting retail landscape full of fresh concepts and innovative brands,” explained Henrietta Klug, buying and merchandising director at The Conran Shop.
“An ever-growing stable of Korean designers is already influencing today’s popular culture.”
At ground level there is also the store’s cafe, titled Orby after Conran’s middle name. Inside, it’s dressed with timber furnishings from Danish brand Carl Hansen and paper lanterns that emit a warm glow.
A cobalt-blue escalator leads up the first floor, which is meant to be a moodier space that’s richer in texture. Here, groupings of furniture are separated by translucent glass partitions, while chairs are displayed on a gridded storage unit with a dark-grey terrazzo base.
Exposed service ducts in the ceiling and product plinths have also been completed in black.
The Conran Shop threw open the doors to its first physical store back in 1973 on west London’s Fulham Road.
It isn’t the only design company that has turned its attention towards Asia. April of this year saw Fritz Hansen open a 1000-square-metre showroom in the Chinese city of Xi’an, in a bid to become “the biggest Danish brand in China”.
The space boasts “temple-like” interiors with high ceilings and vaulted doorways.
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