6a architects: Paul Smith

Extending the pre-existing shop in Mayfair, the new space expands into the neighbouring building with a front builds on a familiar material tradition in London.

The new Mayfair shop front for Paul Smith builds on a familiar material tradition in London.
Cast iron forms an understated background to the city’s streets; its railings, drainpipes, gratings, balconies, bollards and lampposts, are all still cast in foundries founded 100’s of years ago and employing processes first developed in the bronze age.
6a architects, Paul Smith shop's façade, Mayfair, London
A sinuous pattern of interlocking circles was cast into the solid iron façade, becoming an open balustrade across dropped windows at first floor. It reinterprets and abstracts the ground floor rustication of the Georgian townhouse and the sculpted ornamental language of the 18th century shop front.
6a architects, Paul Smith shop's façade, Mayfair, London

Through repetition this typical Regency shape gains optical complexity and with the play of sunlight and shadow turns the pattern into a deep surface texture. This surface is further enlivened by the latent makers’ marks of the casting process and the natural patination of the cast iron.

A more intimate discovery is to be made in the trio of small drawings by Paul cast directly into panels scattered across the façade. Seen obliquely it seems woven, like a fine cloth.

Curved windows project from the darkly textured iron as luminous vitrines, with a nod to the curved glass of the nearby arcades. A secret door of stained oak lies flush with the cast iron panels: the inverted carving of the timber recalls the mould and sand bed prepared for the molten metal.



The cast iron panels curve in to the recessed oak entrance door, a gently bowed iron step evokes worn away treads. Over time, the iron threshold will polish under foot, recording the life of the building in its material.

Paul Smith, Paul Smith shop, interior, Mayfair, London
“Paul’s brief was a panoply of references and thoughts, very like his office full of curious things, all consistent in their affectionate description of life. We talked about the lines and stripes he loves, the soft fall of fabric perhaps lending movement to a stripe across the façade, the skeins of coloured thread wound across cards to determine the weave of a future fabric, perforations allowing light at the same time as making reference to material traditions, a collection of south American woven panamas was examined closely, as were military medals and gold ingots with tiny drawings. We talked about the identity and character of this building, this street, Mayfair, what makes place, the sharpness of Pauls tailoring and the element of surprise always to be found in his clothes, often as not a detail that delights in the strangeness of its familiarity. How all this exuberance might find the restraint needed to engage with the neighbourhood at the same time as contributing to its future identity was key.”
Paul Smith, Paul Smith shop, interior, Mayfair, London

The interior is split into three main areas, each with an individual look and feel.

The women’s area is spacious, inspired by a cross between Mayfair’s rich art history and Barbara Hepworth’s studio. Elegant sculptural rails showcase the clothing collections and handsome cabinets display accessories. The walls of the shoe department are an injection of fun, decorated with over 26,000 dominos!

Paul Smith, Paul Smith shop, interior, Mayfair, London
The men’s area is modernist and masculine in style Organic wood and bronze furniture and fixtures have been custom made and sit on an end-grain wood block floor and natural limestone. A black steel circular rail displays tailoring and three full-length windows overlook a small garden with skylights at the rear.
Paul Smith, Paul Smith shop, interior, Mayfair, London

The furniture area has an open gallery style with clean, modern walls and limestone flooring. This space will change constantly to display unique and unexpected treasures; some original pieces and some that have been given a new lease of life with a Paul Smith fabric.

The building’s characteristic vibrant architectural features, the cobalt stairs and bright green suspended walkway for example, create a break between areas.

Window displays are changed frequently and feature clothes, art and furniture.

Paul Smith shop, Mayfair, London
Program: clothes and furniture shop
Design Team: 6a architects (façade) and Paul Smith (interior)
Façade Specialist: Montresor Partnership
Project Manager: KMB
Structural Engineer: Rodgers Leask
Completion: 2013

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