The trendy streetwear design of Ibn Battuta's Bauhaus store has its roots in German modernism.
After graduating from Parsons School of Design, New York in 2003 with a degree in Design Management, Samara Punjabi followed in the footsteps of previous Parsons graduates such as Claire McCardell, Donna Karan, Tom Ford, and Narciso Rodriguez and opted for a career in fashion.
She explains: "Graduating with a Design Management (BBA) degree that pretty much covered all aspects of design (graphic, product, interior and fashion) was the best decision I ever made. For my senior thesis we had to come up with a business plan and that is where the concept of my store Bauhaus was born. I could picture a multi-brand unique shop for this market where people could have choices under one roof. Besides fashion, Bauhaus offers art and music of various types." It was at Parsons that Punjabi was introduced to the Bauhaus school of architecture and its archetypal Modernist clean lines appealed to her straightaway.
Punjabi says: "The shop's concept is avant garde, modernist and sub-mainstream. The store's design and style is inspired by the Bauhaus architecture movement." The multibrand store is located in Ibn Battuta Mall and targets the young trendy clientele who appreciate design-led items, in their fashion choices, art and music. She adds: "We carry American and European street couture, with brands such as: Evisu, J & Company, 55DSL, Ed Hardy, Wheels and Dollbaby, Matha Lucca, Philipp Plein and AG Jeans."
In keeping with the merchandise, which is at the cutting-edge of contemporary design, the store's style was very important, as Punjabi explains: "We wanted to be faithful to the Bauhaus architectural concept. Hence, certain details of the shop were exaggerated, like no walls are built on a right angle. Some walls are built on an acute angle and the other half are at an obtuse angle, alternating. Hardly any of the walls are at 90 degrees."
For the principal materials, Punjabi chose a combination of wood and acrylic, "to achieve a sub-mainstream look with a hint of class and subtlety." In terms of the colours chosen, she used lime green acrylic as walls, (almost neon in colour) and played with splashes of colours on the seating and music listening station. To tie up these elements together, she incorporated wood and some interesting textured metal, such as the unusual geometric display cases made out of a wood and steel combination.
With a plain white background, which enables the vivid paintings to stand out, Punjabi took inspiration for the rest of the colour scheme from her Bauhaus logo, which uses the primary colours, red, yellow and blue. "These three simple boxes of red, yellow and blue are placed near each other. The shop has quite a bit going on to cater to the vivid and colourful tastes of our ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¼ber trendy clientele."
An industrial feel was chosen for the flooring, as she explains: "We used polished cement to differentiate our shop from other canned concept shops and add a hint of rawness and edginess to Bauhaus' overall look. Also we have open ceilings that are painted all black. It tones down the ultra buzz in terms of products and colours used in the store."
The correct lighting concept was also important to highlight the bold colours used and to emphasise the merchandise. Various coloured spot lights and halogen lights are used throughout, with all the lighting sourced from Reggiani in Italy.
Baituti Interiors carried out the entire execution and imported most the materials from Germany; as this is where the Bauhaus movement originated this has a certain pleasing symmetry.
Punjabi's ambitious plans for the Bauhaus retail brand includes launching an additional store in Abu Dhabi in October and a Bauhaus Underground outlet in the Dubai Outlet Mall this month.
When asked what elements of the Ibn Battuta store she intends to keep, and which aspects she wants to change for future roll-outs she says: "My favourite part of this design is definitely the walls. It makes Bauhaus unique from any other store constructed in the world. I would have liked to use some leather in the design, but I do plan to use this in our future stores."
The budget for the design and fit out was approximately AED800,000 and took eight months to complete.