© AIM Architecture / Photography: Dirk Weiblen

The roll-out of HARMAY flagship stores has shaken up China‘s retail scene, and particularly the country’s high-end cosmetics segment. Targeting a demographic of savvy young consumers, it isn’t surprising the first outposts opened their doors in the country’s first-tier cities. In fact, this strategy is still in full swing, and the latest flagship store has been inaugurated in Shanghai‘s upscale shopping district of Xintiandi. Following the opening two-and-a-half years ago of a store in the Hunan Lu area, it’s HARMAY‘s second retail space in this city, and given its solid reputation as an influential incubator of consumer trends, it makes total sense. Originally an online retailer, HARMAY quickly gained a reputation for creating design-led retail spaces, obviously aiming to boost the shopping experience of its target demographic, and this one is no different. Occupying a spacious 600 sqm. (6,458 sq.ft.) space spread across two floors smack in the middle of the popular shopping area, it features an interior design by Shanghai-based architecture practice AIM Architecture. The design codes take ample cues from Xintiandi’s origins as an open-air wet market, while implementing these utilitarian elements in a luxury shopping format. Additionally, Studio Ongarato, a creative practice based in Melbourne, Hong Kong and Dubai, created fitting signage which can be seen across the premises.

Large windows allow in floods of daylight, but also enable the displayed merchandise to gain full attention from an abundance of foot traffic. Interestingly, and in true market style, the HARMAY store doesn’t restrict itself to its prized cosmetics, but also offers healthy fruits. The brick pavement extends indoors across the greater part of the ground floor, adding a distinct utilitarian element to the setting of shiny steel displays, shelving and cabinets. A staircase of seemingly stacked slabs of concrete is flanked on two sides by tiled up walls which give away the aesthetic on the second floor. Here, shoppers first encounter a sizeable steel cage filled exclusively with beauty products which have not been tested on animals. The floor is clad in entirely in white tiles and furnished with open faced tables and tall painted steel shelves serving as both storage and display. Mind you, since HARMAY started out as an online retailer and the company’s turnover is largely based on online sales, the store also serves as an e-commerce fulfilment site. At the very end, shoppers go through the checkout line with their coveted purchases. The new HARMAY flagship store carries the brand’s own line of cosmetics fragrances, but also equivalent items from a range of foreign brands, including Dermalogica, Botanist, Orezza, Rose et Marius and SG79|STHLM.

HARMAY
Xintiandi, Shop L101-L206
200000 Shanghai
Telephone: +86 400 89068785
Daily 10-10

© AIM Architecture / Photography: Dirk Weiblen and Liwen Sun