Nendo's New Department Store Laboratory

Retail and architecture have merged in many ways before with some of the world's top brands commissioning architects to design the ultimate retail space that best showcases and exemplifies all the values of the respective brands. Whether a retailer is a huge department store or a small independent, retail works by presenting products in a way that makes them appealing to potential customers, in substance and in value. To this effect, the way an item is presented and displayed is of core importance, and yet there are always set rules to go about such things...until Nendo's new laboratory.

Completing their biggest-ever project, Japanese studio Nendo has designed the exterior and interior renovation of floors one to five of a Bangkok (Thailand) department store in a way that their founded Oki Sato can only describe as "...a new way of shopping." A 40,000-square-metre shopping centre, Siam Discovery saw its renovation as a radical vision of retail experience, housing curated lifestyle and artistic environments rather than the all-too-familiar branded concessions. As "a new concept for's a hybrid of a department store and a shopping mall, so there are tenants but there are also 13 self-curated retail points, which is what makes it different", Sato explains. As such, gone are the typical categorisations of products by brand, but instead replaced by lifestyle experiences, be them an innovative digital lab, a quirky street lab, an awesome creative lab or a fun play lab.

To emphasise the experimental nature of the laboratory-like store, beakers, test tubes, flasks, DNA sequences, microscopes, smoke, bubbles and diagrams of molecular structures can be found as a common theme throughout the interior as motifs. A definite space of creativity. Many of the original circular atriums dotted throughout the building were also extended and connected to create an elongated canyon-like space, giving every customer a sense of awe as they wander through. As an example of how creative the environments are, the store directory that spans over all floors isn't some sign on some post aside some staircase, but a stack of 220 frame-shaped boxes with video monitors, digital signage and displays of merchandise. Such stacked box installation also echos on the exterior facade and every space just feels all very fanciful - you really could spend such a long time in this store, never mind consider the products on offer. Via a blending of floor and ceiling surface finishes between each retail space, such a gradation gives an impression that all the various materials are stirred together, not wanting to make the awesome design feel oppressive. With a huge sense of atmosphere, people can feel relaxed as they wanted through the store, whereby any slight misjudgement at the design stages could have resulted in quite the opposite.

As Siam Piwat CEO Chadatip Chutrakul explains, "Retail is not about shopping any more, it's about creating an ever-changing experience for customers so it feels very dynamic and energetic...I decided to make the whole place a Lifestyle Laboratory, meaning anybody can come and do their own experiment - testing, creating and cultivating something for themselves."

With prior experience in designing large retail spaces such as at Milan's (Italy) la Rinascente store, or Tokyo's (Japan) Seibu Shibuya store, Sato still admitted that "...this is definitely the biggest project we've ever done." A design well done, SATORI & SCOUT says. Discover more about this designer and their works at

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