although london is by far the u.k.'s most prominent shopping destination in terms of size and variety, there are noteworthy pockets elsewhere that would appeal to a discerning international clientele. as the country's third largest metropolitan area, birmingham has always had the potential for an expanded high-end retail portfolio. now that things are looking brighter, luxury retailer harvey nichols seized the opportunity, and picked the city to introduce its renewed store formula there. an anchor tenant at the mailbox, an upscale mall in full redevelopment mode and situated just outside the downtown area, it occupies a 45,000 sq.ft. [4,181 sqm.] spread over the ground floor and a mezzanine level.
the renewed interior, designed by london-based agency virgile + partners, is actually conceptualized as a blueprint for all future harvey nichols stores. the focus of the design was to create engaging, versatile, and last but not least, luxurious settings that match the savviness and dynamic of today's shoppers. this has been translated into intentional juxtapositions of materials, furnishings, objects, and an infusion of hi-tech, all below a ceiling covered in shiny metal panels. when entering the store, shoppers walk through an immersive 12-metre long tunnel entrance, featuring a cutting-edge digital art installation that signals the contemporary atmosphere inside.
it's right here where the store's concierge team is readily available with services, such as coat check and valet parking, in a contrasting, somewhat theatrical setting with an oversized baroque crystal chandelier. the store is largely set across one floor with an open plan and lofty dimensions that add up to a sense of spaciousness. as said, the design is eclectic, but it shows a considered layering at the same time. a route has been created through the use of a soft white marble with characteristic grey and terracotta veining, offset by the grey concrete floor tiles around the perimeter of the space.
at the core of the store a beauty department is situated, featuring counters made from concrete with corian tops. the men's and women's apparel collections, as well as accessories and shoes are presented in the perimeter. but don't expect traditional display set-ups. the coveted merchandise is paired with adventurous installations made from a variety of often unexpected materials. anticipating the power shopper demographic, harvey nichols is dotted with stylish lounges where to sit back and recharge for another shopping spree. towards the back of the store, there is a ‘pod’, split in two levels, that dominates the space.
the architectural forms of the pod are sculptural and soft, the marble floor penetrating into the area where beauty services and a hair salon are on offer. an internal staircase leads to the mezzanine level, offering views of the store and creating no less than seven private beauty treatment rooms. a restaurant + cocktail bar seamlessly extends the shopping experience into an ultimate culinary one, and obviously with a similarly stylish setting. open all day, it features an open kitchen, a private space for parties, a special wine area with a wine tasting bar, and last but not least, a well-stocked foodmarket. location: the mailbox, 65 wharfside street [ladywood].