Akin Creative / Dion Lee

Akin Creative have a reputation in Australia for retail design, creating interiors for some of the best known high end brands like Belinda, The Corner Shop, Incu, Sass & Bide, Nudie Jeans and Willow. Dion Lee it seems has quite a reputation too, with a strong aesthetic and distinct brand identity, Lee envisioned the interiors of his inaugural store to contrast with his garments and other futuristic design elements. The store has the feeling of something unfinished with elements that are very refined. 

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Suspended lighting and epoxy high-gloss flooring contrast against mirrored metals and construction villaboard. Custom works installed in the fitting rooms play on light, dimension and reflection - the work of artist Jason Sims who was commissioned especially for the project. “Within our retail blueprint we were looking at this idea of a construction site and how that could be married with a contemporary retail space,” says Lee. “The store has the feeling of something unfinished with elements that are very refined. There was a consciousness of the existing space, creating a displaced area within the fixed framework.”

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For interior designer Chloe McCarthy of Akin Creative, with architects Kelvin Ho and Linda Tjaturono, this meant exploring “how the illusion of something unfinished could be introduced into a contemporary retail space”.

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“Inverting positive and negative space to create a displaced area within the existing framework was [a] focus, as well as the juxtaposition of a modern environment within a heritage setting,” explains McCarthy.

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Construction villaboard was utilised to create a second layer in front of the existing wall, while charcoal marine carpeting covered the main flooring area. This was bordered by polished mirror stainless steel around the carpet edges, which was also used for clothing racks.

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Initial challenges to the design however, namely its heritage status, did suspend the construction process.

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“Inter-tenancy walls had to be demolished to expand the openings between the three adjoining tenancies so they were less like separate rooms and more of a singular space,” says McCarthy, “[but] due to heritage restrictions this was difficult to get approved.

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Initial challenges to the design however, namely its heritage status, did suspend the construction process.

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“Working in the Strand Arcade around Christmas also proved challenging as construction could only take place between 11pm and 7am every day and delivering materials to the site [was] difficult due to limited street and elevator access”.

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Nonetheless, this Dion Lee boutique introduces a certain level of polish and refinement to the Strand Arcade heritage space, and offers shoppers a futuristic aesthetic to complement Lee’s designer collections.

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