We sat down with Duncan Campbell and Charlotte Rey to pick their brains about the inspiration and concept behind the store, their design process and ask the question on everyones lips - why pink?
KITRI x CAMPBELL-REY
Talk us through the design of the shop
Charlotte: KITRI is a young, colourful and energetic label for women who want to dress well, feel great and be successful, created by a team of cool Londoners. From the outset, we wanted to create a space that felt special, interesting and that would feel entirely theirs. We had to consider that the space is for retail, that it will play host to events and that it has to have an immediate visual impact that translates to photography and social media. One of the main objectives of the store was to allow customers to understand the brand and for us to create a physical interpretation of the KITRI spirit. We didn’t want it to feel like a pop-up shop, we wanted it to feel like a transformative experience, so we pushed the envelope a bit.
Charlotte: I think we would never feel that a space was complete if it only featured new furniture and we were thrilled to work with Béton Brut, a design gallery specialising in mid-century furniture for a few key pieces in the store, including a Ruud Jan Kokke slatted armchair, a beautiful architectural desk by Cees Braakman and an Alvar Aalto chair to sit at it. For us the history and patina of these pieces really bring something to the space that would be missing if everything were new. Finally, we created a special one-off edition of our Thierry side table, originally launched at the Salone del Mobile in April. The table takes its colour inspiration from the scheme of the store, with one side in Rosso Levanto burgundy marble, and the other side in Rose Aurora pink.
Photographed by Parveen Narowalia for Vogue.co.uk
What were your main sources of inspiration?
Duncan: We looked at the reflective surfaces of John McCracken’s sculptures, Ettore Sottsass’s playful designs, as well as the mixture of patterns in places like Taschen’s recent Ingressi di Milano book and Verner Panton’s interiors for the Spiegel building among many others. The space is quite long, so we thought it would be fun to visually “stretch” it using a very strong graphic black and white floor element. Contrast was another key element that we felt was important – contrast between colours, between matt and gloss finishes, between soft fabric and hard metallic edges, and between graphic architectural elements and soft organic ones. The result is that the first floor looks a bit like a liquorice allsort which we love! While the downstairs has more of a salon feel which suits the more evening-focused styles that will be shown there.
What is your design process like?
Charlotte: At the start of any project, we both have lots of ideas that we play around with. Inspiration can come from anywhere – architecture, typography, nature, images we both collect. Obviously every project is different, but largely it’s about establishing from the start what we are trying to achieve and then we edit away until a few ideas remain and then we decide on what goes where and how. With a space, even more important that how it looks can be how it makes people feel, and we had this in mind from the start with the KITRI store.
Both floors have a slightly different look and feel. How did you approach the design of each floor?
Duncan: We wanted the ground floor to be very striking from the street. It’s the first impression the customer is met by, even before they step inside the store, so we felt it was very important to paint the façade of the store in an eye-catching colour like burgundy and the stripy floor is a way to really draw people in. The upstairs space is more for daywear and it feels much brighter because of the natural light, so the design probably a bit more playful. Downstairs, we wanted to create something that was a bit sexier, slicker perhaps and a little surprising. The soft undulation of the fabric and split carpet contrasts with the metallic geometry of the plinths which also reflect light in all directions. The clothing downstairs is slightly more focused on the evening, so it feels like a good fit.
What was the most challenging part of the project?
Charlotte: Most often, our design work is informed by natural materials and handcrafted elements but it has been interesting to work with the limitations of a temporary space, and we found this pushed us to find solutions to create high-impact, polished finishes without turning to traditionally luxurious materials.
What’s your favourite element or design feature in the store?
Duncan: I’m very happy with the way the mirrors turned out. We looked at lots of options to buy them in, but creating the custom pill-shaped mirrors for the large triptych downstairs, for the dressing rooms and for the single mirror upstairs allowed us to create a design language that linked both floors of the shop. The shape is echoed in the fluted dado rail, and the lacquered frames contrast beautifully with the soft drapes of the velvet on the walls.
Charlotte: For me it’s the hexagonal plinths. I’m obsessed with the colour, the shiny finish and the shape. I want them for my house!
It’s certainly not your average pop up…
Charlotte: Today people are questioning the relevance of physical shops, but we believe it’s important that you provide customers with an impetus to come and see you, nothing really beats meeting someone face to face, listening to their thoughts, and sharing that experience. We wanted to create a unique space where the KITRI spirit lived and where customers could come and in and meet Haeni and the KITRI team, to feel the fabrics and to try on pieces from the collection. Thankfully it is no longer acceptable to create the same thing over and over again like many flagships or hotels of the early 00’s, but we felt it’s especially important for a brand that exists primarily online, that it’s physical space is exciting acknowledging that people have taken time out of their day to come and see us.
Finally, why pink?
Duncan: Why not! It’s a colour we have always been drawn to and used a lot in our work. It’s versatile, it’s optimistic and people seem to love it. Let’s call it the pink elephant in the room…
Come down to 35 Thayer St, Marylebone, London W1U 2QX and say hello!
Saturday - Sunday (including Bank Holidays): 11.30am - 6pm