Welcome to the Fashion’s Ice cave
SND is a fashion store in Chongking, China, that is rather like a kind of magical cave. The interior was designed by 3Gatti and built in 2014, a 180 m2 space where almost nothing stands on the floor (except the staff and the customers).
3Gatti describes itself as “a Rome-Shanghai based group of architects, designers, artists, builders and thinkers who work collaboratively, operating within the fields of creativity and engineering.” Chief Architect Francesco Gatti’s idea began with a desire to hang everything from the ceiling.
From the 3Gatti website: “When I started this retail project there was a simple and appealing idea of hanging everything from the ceiling – thus moving out of the way the furniture and items to be sold so that all the floor space could be free for customers to circulate. So using a software that simulates the physics of real materials, we imagined an elastic ceiling that was pulled down by the weight of these various objects. The next step was to think about the technical equipment necessary for the store such as lighting, speakers, sprinklers, cameras, AC and ventilation so it was natural to think of this ceiling as a permeable surface. This was the origin of the ethereal white ceiling; an ephemeral support for ephemeral objects.”
This bountiful ceiling is made of 10,000 sheets of 1/16” translucent white glass-fiber composite, a commodity item that was custom-cut by CNC machines, based on a computer file supplied by the architect. The composite is Crane Composite’s 8oz. Crystallite translucent white, an exterior-grade sheeting made of Neopentyl Glycol (NPG) resin combined with random chopped fiberglass for reinforcement. (The material includes UV stabilizers to protect it in exterior applications.)
Gatti selected the fiberglass sheeting both because of its fire resistance, and because of the way it handles light, “creating a ceiling landscape that would be a spectacular source of light, beauty and emptiness; perfect for every fashion victim.”
The effect is rather like stylized stalactites in an ice-cave. The wintry, impossibly white look of the ceiling – reminiscent of Superman’s Fortress of Solitude – is the emotional opposite of the dark, recycled timber floors. The very used, irregular, sharply detailed floors have a character and history that contrasts both visually and psychologically with the pristine, unnaturally perfect ceiling. In between the two lurks Fashion, and those who seek it.
All images courtesy of 3Gatti.