The new Manolo Blahnik Hong Kong store opened in Kowloon in May 2013. Located in the large Elements Building on Austin Road West, the store needed to have a strong individual element to stand out amongst many competing luxury brands. The main building is arranged in according with the Wu Xing, the five fundamental elements of nature, metal, wood, water, fire and earth, using this traditional Chinese structure to form the material theme of each of the five key zones.
The design concept drew inspiration from Chinese weaving and handicrafts, usually using thin strips of bamboo to create elegantly contoured surfaces that are both strong in structure, texture and colour variation. The studio researched other architectural approaches to woven surfaces and structures before creating a hybrid system that combines a store front with screening and display, an undulating surface formed from long strips of laminated plywood faced with white or grey oiled oak veneer. Each strip is woven in and out of a bronze grid, onto which projecting shelves are attached to hold individual pairs of shoes. Additional display space is formed by increasing the angle of the weave to form curved shelves that project from the wall.
The bronze frame is ceiling hung, with a gentle curve to draw the eye into the store from the walkway outside. The storefront itself is frameless glass. The natural colours of the weave are not only juxtaposed with the bold coloured leather of the shoes, but with two large custom-fabricated ottomans, one upholstered in bright pink, the other in green.