FOR all the Barbican’s accolades in arts, culture and residential design, the one thing this unique little corner of the City has never quite managed to get right is its retail offering.
The architects’ vision for a miniature mall for Frobisher Crescent never came to pass, and the individual shops that mushroomed along St Alphage Highwalk are mostly boarded up.
But the one bright spot amidst the retail malaise is the launch of the Barbican Centre’s brand new shop this autumn. Opening in the centre’s foyer this November, the shop will carry exclusive designer commissions of art, jewellery and homewares inspired by the Barbican’s architecture and artistic programme.
Interior accessories designer Lindsay Lang produced a range of homewares inspired by the bush-hammered concrete of the Lauderdale Tower, while printmaker Kate Farley drew on musical references for ‘Rhythms’, a series of stationary and gift designs.
Illustrators Daniel Clarke, James Brown, Charlotte Trounce and design studio Alfred & Wild have also been commissioned to create capsule collections. Kate Farley says she got the idea for ‘Rhythms’ by comparing the estate’s architectural patterns with a sheet of music.
“The shapes of the instruments explore scale and detail in the same way the buildings do. The strings become walkways, the oboe keys are jetties on the water,” she says.
RIBA Stirling Prize-winning architects Allford Hall Monaghan Morris designed the 330-square metre space with the flexibility to change with the designer. A series of modular units can be moved and shifted around depending on what’s in store at any given time. At its heart is a pop-up concession space dedicated to showcasing the work of emerging designers on a rotating basis.
The Barbican’s head of retail, Adam Throw, says the additional space provides an opportunity to hold workshops and talks, connecting the makers with their consumers. He said: “We aim to be so much more than just an ‘exit through the gift shop’ experience.”
The Barbican Centre Shop opens in November. Silk Street EC2Y 8DS