Mulberry Bond Street

Finding synergy between traditional craft and technical innovation

Mulberry opens its first store in London's Bond Street

In 2010, we were commissioned to design the London flagship for luxury fashion brand Mulberry. Founded in 1971 in Somerset England, Mulberry is very proud of its British heritage and reputation for craftsmanship, and the brief was to create an experience that reflected this. The brand’s New Bond Street store needed to be thoroughly modern and dynamic but also communicate its ties to the English landscape, and its commitment to craft and the environment. The project had this dichotomy at its core; it had to reflect notions of English rural craft but in a way that would appeal to a modern and urban consumer in London’s premium luxury shopping area.

We wanted to create a scheme that would have a gradient approach; some areas with permanence and some areas of flexibility that could evolve and reduce the need for frequent, wasteful re-fits that were very common in luxury fashion.

The idea was to punctuate the space with a series of follies—small, pavilion-type structures that would house different collections. Arranged to create a sequence of interstitial spaces that customers could move between, through and around, these semi-permanent structures were made from oak by carpenters in Whitstable, just a few hours drive away from London. Their construction was based on elements of rural craft such as timber framing, raw beaten brass work, willow fencing and dry stone walling. As is typical with our projects, all the pieces were prototyped and tested at 1:1 in either our studio or at various workshops.

The interior shell was finished to the same standard as a modern art gallery, with polished concrete floors, acoustic plaster and daylight-simulating, energy-conserving light boxes. Within the space, fixtures made from raw oak, etched and polished brass and smooth lacquer work were designed to be loose and movable.

Ethics and aesthetics were linked from the start. Max Fordham, consulting engineers, were appointed to the project to integrate energy efficient concepts into the new store design. As a result, the store received a BREEAM rating of ‘Excellent’, and was the first on Bond Street to do so.

One of the key energy efficient concepts within the store is a dry-stone wall that spans the back of the space. We needed a device to form the backbone of the store, but also provide a textural backdrop for the display of the garments. The wall is an integral part of the mechanics of the store, retaining heat in the winter and cooling the air in the summer, acting like a large heatsink. Max Fordham specially developed an efficient system whereby excess heat from the lighting is drawn back through the wall. This exits gently through openings in the wall and provides heating within the store.

Built on site by a master dry stone waller, the stones are fixed in a traditional matter, just using smaller stones to pin them in place. In this manner, the wall is temporary or ‘borrowed’ for the duration of the store’s life. The stone was sourced from four different places in the Cotswolds—the nearest available quarries to London—creating a unique and warm colour mix that replicates how walls would often be built and repaired over time.