Our BA Architecture and MA Narrative Environments students and alumni have been working with LVMH to design an ambitious customer experience focused around sustainable practices and materials as part of the LVMH x Central Saint Martins partnership. Here Rosa Morcom, our Marketing and Sponsorship Co-ordinator in Innovation and Business, talks us through the winning design.
Can biodegradable materials ever truly reflect the values of a luxury brand? Thanks to the extensive research of our students and graduates the answer is a resounding “yes”. Alongside LVMH architects, they created a host of innovative designs for an LVMH megastore which uses sustainable construction materials and also reflects the brand’s luxury products.
The winning team, Journey, was made up of four Central Saint Martins students (Annie Hung, Marta Kedziora, John Langran and Lingze Wang) and one graduate (Jordan Cottage) and takes the customer on a journey through nature. It takes inspiration from Caspar David Friedrich’s 1818 painting Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog in which a traveller stands atop a mountain, surveying the natural beauty which surrounds him. In the store design, the customer travels through a valley, cave and forest before reaching the pinnacle of a first-floor “mountain-top” bar from which they can survey the “landscape” before them.
Entering the store the visitor is met by the stone-grey “valley” dotted with islands constructed from recycled glass and porcelain – upon which shining Berluti shoes are perched. Underneath the orange-brown “mountain” glows the dark light of the “cave”. Lit dimly by bioluminescent algae, it emits the scent of Dior perfume – the bottles displayed in its crags, alongside Hubolt watches. To the right lies a “forest” of timber-like clothes racks displaying LVMH garments, which are topped with a network of emerald, algae pipes. These are an integral part of the algae-driven ventilation system which releases pure oxygen to enrich the in-store air quality.
This is just one of the proposals selected for development in collaboration with LVMH staff and architects. Final concepts were judged on their environmental qualities, the feasibility of their application and, most importantly, their innovative approach to the integration of environmental concerns with enticing user experiences, as Jordan Cottage comments:
“LVMH staff always encouraged bold ideas and were enthusiastic about concepts which experimented with new sustainable materials and ideas of what luxury retail could be. This was refreshing as they helped to balance the ambition of the students with the professional understanding of how to turn radical concepts into real experiences that worked with the core beliefs of LVMH.”
Oscar Bonito-Gonzalez, Senior Academic for Spatial Practices, says:
“The collaboration with industry professionals and environmental consultants and the research and sourcing of innovative materials pushed our students beyond their comfort zones. This project provided real-life experience that challenged them to integrate their research and design skills with their embedded understanding of environmental principles and concerns in their proposals.”
The teams who worked on the project also made lasting contributions to the LVMH Materials Library. One key element of the brand’s environmental policy is maintaining an online library of sustainable materials, this contains hundreds of examples which could be used in the future by its Maisons. An important legacy of the Green Concept Store project is its contribution to this library; the extensive research documented there will remain an active resource for any upcoming Maison activities.
Sustainability is a vital topic in the fashion and luxury industries and is a key focus of the LVMH x Central Saint Martins partnership. Maison/0 – set up under the partnership and led by Professor Carole Collet – encourages and celebrates innovative approaches to sustainable design within our student body. At Degree Show Two: Design in 2018, Maison/0 launched the first annual Green Trail – an initiative which signposts the very best in environmentally-responsible design highlighting over 40 of our student projects which demonstrated sustainable innovation. It is a topic central to many of our students’ practices – as Cottage explains:
“Sustainability is especially required in the luxury retail sector as there is a global habit of material waste due to the intrinsic nature of fashion and its ever-demanding thirst for change. This problem is beginning to be recognised and also presents an exciting opportunity for creatives to help fix this issue through use of sustainable materials and intelligent design with longevity in mind.”
Maison/0 is an incubator of creative-led sustainable innovation set up as part of the CSM LVMH Partnership in September 2017.
Our MA in Narrative Environments combines storytelling with forms of spatial design.