Architecture practice Friend and Company has led the new design of the Victoria & Albert Museum shop. With their signature total architecture approach the new shop embraces craftsmanship, and is set to be an inspirational space for the 21st century museum-goer. London-based Friend and Company won an international competition in 2016, leading a collective of designers with an approach true to the V&A’s ethos.
After 12 months of collaborative work the eagerly anticipated new shop is open.
Situated at the heart of the museum, the site is crucial in defining the V&A experience. The V&A archives at Blythe House reveal that the first V&A shop, as early as 1863, was a showcase for new crafts and a place for visitors to connect with the museum collections.
This remodel creates a multi-functional space in keeping with the museum, capable of hosting diverse events, as well as classic retail areas, to respond to its growing audience.
Spatially the new shop substantially increases its displayable wall space through a concept of lanes and street facades that grew from a close examination of previously hidden steel structures.
A suspended ceiling, installed in the 1970s, has been removed to increase height and reveal the historic development of the building and project films to reveal new narratives connecting the shop to the collections. This structure is echoed with bespoke 10 mm mild steel shelving ‘weldments’.
Bespoke Digital Craft Finishes
By design, all materials have been digitally manufactured, either laser cut, cnc routed or 3d printed before painstaking application of a custom hand finish so as to radiate more than one colour depending on how they are viewed, to create a shimmer effect.
These include a silver zinc base coat for black patinated mild steel weldments, the green / blue glazes for the ceramic carpet, the timber white oil and the white silver custom car paint applied to the newly exposed historic zinc galvanized steel columns and beams.
This was also used on the new galvanized soffit beams and columns that help create the pavilions.
The new V&A Shop opened to the public on Friday 5th May 2017.
Images © Ed Reeve