AIM Architecture is inspired by 1970s offices for a cosmetics store

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Shanghai studio AIM Architecture has transformed the second floor of a business park in Hangzhou, China, into a store that looks like a 1970s office for cosmetics brand Harmay.


The studio reimagined the space as a retro office with desk chairs, dummy shelves for makeup items, and meeting tables for other cosmetics.

AIM Architecture wanted the cosmetics store in Hangzhou to look like an office

AIM Architecture (AIM) chose a color palette of muted yellows, oranges and browns that were popular in the 1970s for the 1,382 square meter space.

This retro color palette is paired with a wool rug from the German brand Find“meeting room” sliding doors in frosted glass and contrasting lime green shelves.

Frosted glass door leading to a meeting room
1970s browns, yellows and oranges give the store a retro feel

Other desk touches in the two-story store include bookshelves, upholstered stools, and industrial structural columns.

Rows of yellow desks similar to those you might find in a period office were used to display the brand‘s cosmetics, including perfumes and make-up. Extra stock was stored inside desk drawers.

Portholes give customers a glimpse of the internal transit warehouse that is also within the building complex, while mirrored walls in the center of the store are designed to take customers away from reality.

The studio wanted the store to be a tribute to working life and to help customers realize the benefits of in-store shopping experiences over buying online.

“We really wanted to use this concept to celebrate everyday life and see the beauty in it,” AIM founder Wendy Saunders told Dezeen.

“Here in China, the reality is that people shop online for anything, anywhere, anytime,” she said. “Since physical shopping is just for fun, we wanted to create a colorful version of it.”

Cosmetics displayed on a round column
Cosmetic products are displayed on fake shelves

In addition to paying homage to the specific decade, the studio wanted the store to echo the surrounding offices in the mixed-use business park.

The store is located in the recently opened OōEli complex, a large-scale urban development project designed by Italian Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano.

A mirrored walkway crosses the center of the store

“Sometimes the building dominates and inspires the site you’re working in: it sets the mood,” Saunders explained. “This site was one of them.”

“Creating an ‘old school’ physical retail experience in an actual office space seemed like a fun way to translate this duality of space and time,” she added.

Other recently completed stores in Shanghai include MVRDV’s design for a Bulgari store that draws inspiration from the glamor of art deco architecture, and a clothing boutique called Canal St designed by Sò Studio to resemble the New York City subway.

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