The challenge posed by the five metre high ceilings of Manolo Blahnik’s flagship store in Dubai was one of scale, and of how to relate a shoe within a very large unit. In order to create a more human scale, the Dubai store is dominated by a series of white hardwood screens, hand-carved in a tessellated stone coral pattern to create a series of alcoves and niches to shape the space and direct the display of shoes.
The screens also serve to conjure up the atmosphere and character of Dubai, is nature, geography and history. The space is naturally coloured, a hue that references the quality of light and landscape of the vast expanses of the Rub’ al Khali desert and the Sabkha salt flats. The idea of a space enveloped by drapes and screens and adorned with cascades of pendant lights also evokes the multi-layered Bedouin tent and traditional Bedouin jewellery. The screen pattern references the mathematical complexity and intricacy of Islamic architectural detailing, as well as the organic forms of the coral reef. The screens are arranged a cluster of alcoves to subdivide the space.
The 65 floating lamps are the ‘Beat’ and ‘Stout’ pendants created by the designer Tom Dixon. These are paired with elaborate console tables and the bold splashes of colour of the seating, with the merchandise slotting into custom-built metal frames that can be placed anywhere on the framework. The overall effect is a tantalising space, rich in visual interest and local spirit.