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The re-design and refurbishment of Shin Kong Place created a new brand for one of Asia’s largest luxury department stores, which competes both in Asia and globally, attracting a world-class collection of luxury brands. 

Its success led to us being commissioned to design SKP in Xi’an which is a landmark store that is more than three times the size of Harrods and is being positioned as the number one department store in the world.







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Our relationship with SKP began with the existing Shin Kong Place store in Beijing. We started by looking at its brand and corporate identity. We took one of our favourite Chinese characters, the symbol for rice, and morphed it with the SKP. We called it SKP because everyone else did. This modern twist created a logo and, inadvertently, those hidden curves through the middle of the logo are now referred to as the SKP curve. A simple gesture: the choice of two colours as the corporate colour, one pink and one teal. 

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Our client loved the logo immediately. He loved the pink, the hidden curve and from that point on everything was consistent with that branding from the door handle to the escalator. We were harking back consciously to the heydays of a single-house style with a series of beautifully curated products – that’s the sentiment that we wanted to carry through everything we did for SKP. All aspects of the 140,000 square-metre store, including wayfinding and packaging, reflect the brand’s holistic identity, drawn from the architectural concept of morphing the columns into the ceiling to produce one continuous sculpture and inspired by Art Deco craftsmanship and opulence. 

We spent four years refurbishing every single floor, every department and keeping it trading at the same time. There was a seven-hour window in which we could work. One night we had about 2,500 workers. Every floor is about 140,00 square metres over seven floors, so we had to chop up” every floor into different phases – that’s why it took so long. If we could have done it in one take it would have been 12 months. 

SKP Xi’an, which we have been working on for the past two years, is even more of a challenge. Xi’an was the original capital of China, the country’s oldest city, the home of the terracotta army and one of the few remaining cities with the original fortifications. There’s a hungry demographic in Xi’an for luxury goods but, as a second-tier city, consumers currently have to go to Beijing or Shanghai to buy whatever they see on the front cover of Vogue China. So SKP wanted to attract and retain renowned global brands to Xi’an to attract this demographic. 

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Sybarite Architects Skp Shin Kong Place Beijing Menswear Luxury Retail Fashion

We inherited the frame of a building, a concrete structure, that was designed to be a conference centre. It’s right next door to the region’s parliament building, so it’s a sensitive site as it’s literally being watched 247. It’s nearly double the size of SKP Beijing at 250,000 square metres and 20 storeys high, so it’s a monumental retail effort. We have to create destinations on these floors these to drive customers up. It’s the first time we’ve designed retail that’s really vertical. Sybarite designed it in such a way that it sits neatly in its environment but the façade is layered with an intricate honeycomb pattern of brushed bronze brass providing interest through the detailing, and subtly introducing the SKP brand. You want visitors to know exactly where they are, without having to explicitly remind them So we took this curve and made it a motif every-where from the lift buttons to the concessions; we even designed it to obscure the vents built into the pavements outside. It’s a subliminal cue which artfully reminds visitors that they are experiencing SKP, a retail brand that is ambitiously positioning itself as the top department store in the world.

Since 2013, Sybarite has been gradually transforming Shin Kong Place, one of Asia’s largest shopping malls into China’s premier luxury department store. All seven floors are being reimagined to incorporate a tailored and timeless architectural language which will result in an iconic house of fashion.

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Shin Kong Place Department Store Beijing China
Design Development Sketch by Sybarite
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Shin Kong Place Department Store Beijing China
Photography by SU Wei
Sybarite Architects Skp Shin Kong Place Beijing Event Space Luxury Retail Fashion
Sybarite Architects Skp Shin Kong Place Beijing Lingerie Fitting Room Luxury Retail Fashion

The range of global brands it houses is vast – more than 1,000 including Gucci, Pra-da, Dior, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton as well as a carefully curated selection of domestic brands such as Xuzhi, Huishan Zhang and Quihao. Then there are the cultural facilities such as cinemas, art galleries, restaurants and cafés including the second Rendez-vous lifestyle concept store within SKP, following the success of Rendez-vous in SKP Beijing. The concept includes a number of carefully curated operators including TWG tea room, a wine bar and cellar, an artisanal cheese room with cheese-making facilities and a restaurant area and art gallery as well as a book shop which acts as the spine of the store, connecting all aspects of the creative and cultural lifestyle space. 

SKP Xi’an has everything from an ice skating rink, tenpin bowling alley and Wedding World to the man who polishes shoes. If you can think of it, this building’s got it. 

Our first step was to create a luxury brand identity. Loyal customers had always fondly abbreviated Shin Kong Place to SKP; we adopted this new name, designing a new logo and visual language around it. This was incorporated throughout the SKP ecosystem to create a brand beyond a department store. Two floors have already been reopened, revealing a light, delicate mix of Art Deco and contemporary. SKP has since experienced unparalleled sales.

We have completed seven floors up to podium level, then another 13 floors within the tower section. The first two floors open spring 2018 and then by the end of this year the rest of the building will be complete. It’s largely due to Sybarite’s work with SKP that the practice was awarded a prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Innovation and Export in 2016

Sybarite Architects Skp Shin Kong Place Beijing Louis Vuitton Luxury Retail Fashion
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Sybarite Architects Skp Shin Kong Place Beijing Shoes Sketch Luxury Retail Fashion Visual Merchandising
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Sybarite Architects Skp Shin Kong Place Beijing Watches Luxury Retail Fashion
Sybarite Architects Skp Shin Kong Place Beijing Beauty Luxury Retail Makeup
Sybarite Architects Skp Shin Kong Place Beijing Cafe Sketch Luxury Retail
Sybarite Architects Skp Shin Kong Place Beijing Vista Corridor Luxury Retail Fashion