London and Singapore based interior architects Shed, have just completed the re-design of the toy department for Harrods, London. The result is the Toy Kingdom – the second collaboration between Shed and Harrods following the completion of the Shoe Salon in 2011.
The opportunity was for Shed to re-design the existing 15 year-old department, create a retail attraction and destination for toys, whilst offering unique experiences for visitors young and old. The finished concept had to reflect and reinforce Harrods as the world’s leading toy department and Shed has succeeded in the creation of a Toy Kingdom which is spell binding and provides a legacy for the future. The concept is timeless in its appeal, purposely allowing for brands to seamlessly integrate into an execution that is distinctly ‘Harrods’.
The design evolution began with the story of discovery, a hypothetical series of lost rooms that use the backdrop of a classical Toy kingdom and interlace this with imaginary worlds. These physical concepts are called dreamscapes and this simple set up has allowed Shed to create a compelling and imaginative environment.
Flooring and ceiling are both design features in their own right with illustrated panels showing fantasy skylines, clouds and planets. The floor choice is traditional parquet with an accentuation ribbon of gold; ceiling panels are colorfully illustrated and in keeping with the various themes.
Dreamscapes and The Big Top
The main entrance to the Toy Kingdom is via a pair of gates that open into the first dreamscape – The Big Top. Shed has realised this theme by focusing activity around an awe-inspiring, giant red and white big-top area where live presentations, children’s shows and merchandising are showcased and can be interacted with. To the left of the big top area is the candy store where various types of sweets sit in large copper vats and presentations will show actual sweets being made.
The Enchanted Forest and Wonderland
The Enchanted Forest follows on from here and a series of real trees and yurts create the backdrop. This area leads into The Wonderland where an imposing, multi colored landscape rises up and creates canyons on either side of a path. These landscapes form a stage for the miniature world of toy trains, cars, planes and a giant dragon. Above the central area are a series of illustrated panels showing fantastical skies where objects and animals emerge from the clouds.
The Odyssey is a space inspired space and uses light and sound to create a very different atmosphere. A grid of black and white pod, forms plinths for a collection of toys from other worlds. Lights housed in black domes peer imposingly from the ceiling and a black and white tiled floor makes for a stark effect.
The Reading Room
The more sedate Reading Room ends our journey. The atmosphere is created from magical twists on traditional themes; heritage materials such as leather, wood and brass act as a backdrop to the talking bookshelves where stories can be heard. A beautiful, central and circular library dominates the scene and curved walls are illustrated with images of fun and adventure with books housed in alcoves, set inside these wonderful, colorful scenes.
Shed says of the project, ‘This was a designers dream. Not only did the project allow us to use details and materials of a bygone era, we were also given total, creative freedom with the creation of the dreamscapes. The result was an amazing combination of traditional retail and surreal experiences that together form an amazing space. Simply put, the Toy Kingdom was just great fun to work on.’
Posted by Michelle Lesser at 21 September, 2012