The Social Studio (TSS) is a fashion school, clothing label, a café, and a community space located in the heart of Collingwood. As a social enterprise that champions the values of diversity, community, education, environmentally sustainable design and ethical business practices, Assemble has long been an admirer of the socially-engaged work and accessible ‘remixed design’ that comes out of TSS. So, we were chuffed to be invited by TSS to design their new retail space at their Collingwood home (due for completion late 2012). The brief for the design was that it had to be simple and cost effective while also freshening up the retail image of the brand, enhance the feel of the space for both staff and customers and include a flexible display system allowing for seasonal changes in shop displays, clothes and accessories.
The design is currently under development.
Our design for the new TSS store is based on a large pegboard system. TSS clothing often incorporate rich silks, geometric prints and vibrant colours, so we felt the design should remain more neutral and understated in order to let the fabrics and garments have centre stage. We proposed to make the entire northern wall of the shop one giant adaptable pegboard (or perhaps a giant game of battleships!). Pegs can easily be added or subtracted, shifted and reconfigured for shelving or the hanging of longer garments. The peg systems also allows for seasonal refreshes in the display and visual merchandising in the space and also frees up some much-needed storage space for the production area at the back of the shop. Through discussions with TSS founder Grace McQuilten and various members of the board and staff team, it became clear that the on-site production space is like the engine of TSS. We felt it was therefore important that the design should keep the production area in clear view of the customer and better integrate it within the retail space. We really like the idea of giving the production process of TSS real prominence, making it a visible part of the retail experience. Continuing our obsession with iconic ceilings (have a look at our studio), we proposed to create a bespoke ceiling installation made from hundreds of brown cardboard cutting patterns, another way to reconnect the retail space to the story of the production of the clothing.