An Urban Retreat


EMME prides itself on its collection of cashmere, silk and other exquisite textiles. It has chosen its first location at the Columbia Circle, a recently rehabilitated hub that is bustling with commercial and cultural activities. Among its neighbouring prominent historical and industrial buildings, the boutique has been designed as a hidden gem off the beaten track, making a connection with nature and delivering the brand’s pursuit of quality in life.

The retail site is on the ground floor of building no. 21 which is tucked away from the main street. Lukstudio sees the original shortcoming as an opportunity to create an architectural promenade. Adding a verandah structure surrounding a minimal front yard, the new storefront gives a serene first impression. The additional envelop is comprised of concrete panels with wood grain imprint and wooden slats; while the former encloses, the latter reveals. When one passes through the entrance, movement activates the see-through structure and performs a visual rhythm.

The boundary between interior and exterior is blurred to create a presence of nature in the store. The outdoor concrete wall texture is continued to the indoor gallery, visually connecting the two entry spaces into one. On a good day, a pair of sliding doors physically opens the yard to the store. Apart from framing views of the outdoor yard and planting trees within the store, the idea of nature is further expressed with materiality and lighting. A light palette of stone, wood and polished concrete is chosen to complement the natural cashmere garments on display. Together with the use of diffused sunlight, a cozy atmosphere is conjured to soothe the body and the mind.

While the open floor design fulfils the purpose of a retail store, the various display zones recalls different parts of a house. Entering a parlour with central plinths and a big opening that frames a sunroom behind; a white stone-clad box that greets visitors like an open dressing room; a sitting area with a view to the courtyard. While the multi-room design allows the changing curation of art, fashion and home decor every season, the idea of spatial continuity is enhanced by a series of mirrors that fuses the layered interiors and brings in the exterior in reflection. Every visit to the store could be a unique experience according to the time, the weather and the collection on display.

As the sun goes down, the hermit character of the store transforms dramatically as the light comes up. The verandah structure marks the passing of time and turns into a lantern, either guiding the curious passers-by inside or reminding the guests perhaps it’s time to go. A retail space that allows visitors to pause and connect with nature is extremely precious in an urban setting. Lukstudio wishes these endearing moments of simple beauty would be cherished by others who visit this urban retreat.



client: EMME
location: GF, BLDG 21, Columbia Circle, 1262 Yan’an Xi Road
total design area: 440 sqm
store interior area: 210 sqm
architecture and interior design: LUKSTUDIO
director: Christina Luk
design team: Alba Beroiz Blazquez, Ray Ou, Yiren Ding, Sarah Wang, Kevin Yang
structural engineer: Jack Liu
lighting fixtures: Great Lighting
scope: façade, interior, landscape & lighting design
material suppliers: Bella Stone, Gabriel, Huili
furniture: Carl Hansen, Muuto
design period: 2017.12 -2018.03
construction period: 2018.04 – 2018.08
contractor: K&H International Construction Engineering CO. LTD.
photography: Tian Fang Fang