Shanghai studio AIM Architecture has inserted a red staircase that resembles a children's slide in the middle of this clothing store to create a playful interior.
Named In the Park, the Shanghai store was designed to reflect the playfulness of the clothing brand while drawing on the layout of traditional Chinese parks.
AIM Architecture wanted to transform what was once an inaccessible three-storey space in the middle of a busy shopping mall into something that felt interconnected and coherent.
The most prominent feature is a striking 4.2-metre-tall staircase made from fibreglass and rubber that resembles a children's playground slide or a skating bowl.
"The staircase is as inspired by a suburban skate bowl as much as it is an austere garden," Wendy Saunders, AIM's founder and principal architect, told Dezeen.
"We wanted to make the stairs more than just a way up but an experience in itself and at the same time breaking the high climb for the customers by adding an extra floor."
Red steps snake from the mezzanine to a halfway platform and continue on to the ground floor, connecting all levels inside the store.
"Making a connection between all the floors is an important part of the spatial identity," said Saunders. "The original site was three storeys high with no connection and a forest of columns, making parts of the space unreachable."
While shoppers entering In the Park are immediately confronted by the staircase, the brand's clothes, shoes and other homeware items are spread out sporadically around the space.
On the first floor, a record store has been tucked around a corner out of sight.
According to the designers, this echoes the arrangement of landscaping in China's parks and gardens.
"We were strongly inspired by traditional Chinese parks, where winding paths lead the visitor to secluded areas," said Saunders.
Several other decorative elements alongside the main staircase were used to contribute to the playful look.
Aluminium shelves informed by park benches wrap around "tree like" columns throughout the store. Outside, bamboo chairs and a large oval seat surround a bed of plants.
Playful hues and shapes in the store are set against minimal furnishings such as the steel shelving units and the muted grey colour palette.
Industrial, untouched pillars around the store also contrast the cheerful centre piece, giving the interior a more balanced feel.
This isn't the first time AIM has revamped part of a retail mall, having previously studio designed a lobby and a shopping centre inside Fuxing Plaza in Shanghai.
AIM also transformed an atrium in the Xintiandi mall in Shanghai by adding a number of natural materials and plants.
Photography is by Wen Studio.
Dezeen has teamed up with Milan's Salone del Mobile to live stream a panel discussion each day during Supersalone for its Open Talks series, from 6-10 September.
Taking place each afternoon at 2:00pm London time, the talks will cover topics including women in design institutions, radical design and design education and feature designers, curators and critics including Beatriz Colomina, Lilli Hollein, Aric Chen and Stefano Boeri.
The discussions are part of Open Talks, a series of daily talks at Supersalone curated by Maria Cristina Didero.
This year's edition of Salone del Mobile, titled Supersalone, is curated by architect Boeri as a response to the coronavirus pandemic, which caused the cancellation of the 2020 edition.
Taking place in Milan in September rather than in its usual April slot, the special edition of the fair will feature products displayed on a series of parallel walls instead of in branded booths.
"I believe that this will be a way to take a risk in the right direction and demonstrate that the Salone is alive, that Milan is alive and that generally, our field is still dynamic and open to new conditions," Boeri told Dezeen in an interview earlier this year.
The fair will be open to the public all week and visitors will be able to buy discounted products by scanning QR codes located next to products.
The schedule for the talks that will be streamed on Dezeen is below. For details of the full Open Talks programme, click here.
Who can say no to education?
2:00pm London time, 6 September
In this talk, architectural historian Colomina, curator Chen and professor of Design and Social Inquiry at Parsons School of Design in New York Anthony Dunne, will discuss The Lost Graduation Show. This exhibition at Supersalone will showcase 170 design projects by students from 48 design schools worldwide, who graduated between 2020 and 2021, during the coronavirus pandemic.
Moderated by the show's curator Anniina Koivu, the panel will discuss the pressing topics and issues explored by the students in the show that are facing a new generation of designers.
Women within institutions
2:00pm London time, 7 September
Moderated by creative director and design consultant Tony Chambers, this talk will explore the experiences of women within design and art institutions. On the panel is the director of the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe in Hamburg Tulga Beyerle, director of the MAK museum in Vienna Hollein and curator of contemporary design at the Smithsonian Design Museum in New York Alexandra Cunningham Cameron.
Foundations between design and charity
2:00pm London time, 8 September
Featuring a panel including Parley for the Oceans founder Cyrill Gutsch, chair of the Swarowski Foundation and Waterschool Nadja Swarovski, House of Today Foundation foundation director Cherine Magrabi Tayeb and design historian Libby Sellers, this talk will explore how the creative industries can help to find solutions to the world's biggest problems.
2:00pm London time, 9 September
In this talk, designer Philippe Malouin and Italian design studio Formafantasma will speak to curator and movie director Francesca Molteni about what it means to be radical in today's design industry.
Architecture is not art
2:00pm London time, Friday 10 September
To round off the week, chief curator of High Line Art in New York Cecilia Alemani, will speak to artist Carsten Höller and architect Boeri about the relationship between architecture and art. The panel will discuss the ways in which the two disciplines relate to each other.
Salone del Mobile and parallel fuorisalone events will take place from 5 to 10 September 2021 in Milan. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.
Dezeen has teamed up with London's Royal Academy of Arts to broadcast this year's annual architecture lecture by Atelier Bow-Wow founders Yoshiharu Tsukamoto and Momoyo Kaijima.
In the lecture, which is titled Architectural Behaviorology, the Japanese architects discussed the architectural impact of the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 1964 and 2021 and how it has affected their own practice.
The duo also explained their approach to architecture – how they try to create a continuous loop between research, teaching and their own design work – before discussing how they have increasingly shifted their attention to rural areas of Japan.
Projects featured in the talk include Atelier Bow-Wow's work over a number of years in Momonoura, a small fishing village that was devastated by the Tsunami in 2011.
Kaijima explained how they worked with the villagers to create new accommodation made from local materials to attract new residents and visitors to the area.
Tsukamoto presented projects including the studio's Tanada Terrace Office pavilion, a concept for a rural office that Atelier Bow-Wow built with Muji in an area of Japanese farmland dominated by terraced rice fields.
The concept intended to suggest a new typology of building that could provide a space for city workers to visit the countryside in order to encourage better integration and interaction between urban and rural communities.
Tsukamoto and Kaijima founded Atelier Bow-Wow in 1992 and have devoted their practice to investigating the material, social and economic conditions of architecture.
In 2019, the duo told Dezeen how the Tokyo 2020 Olympics had reduced the opportunities for smaller practices in the city.
Tsukamoto and Kaijima's lecture, which they gave in July remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic, is the 30th annual architecture lecture organised by the Royal Academy of Arts. Dezeen has collaborated with the RA to make the talk available for people to watch for free for the first time.
Previous annual architecture lectures have been given by architects including Jean-Philippe Vassal, Grafton Architects, Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi and Amateur Architecture Studio. The five most recent talks are available to watch on Dezeen here.
Dezeen x Royal Academy of Arts annual architecture lectures
This article is part of a media partnership between Dezeen and the Royal Academy of Arts. Find out more about Dezeen partnership content here.
Children can play, hide and climb inside a series of sculptural spheres in a playground in Vårbergstoppen, Stockholm designed by Swedish architecture studio AndrénFogelström.
AndrénFogelström has decorated Vårbergstoppen, a park on a hill on the outskirts of Stockholm, with several colourful spheres.
The studio worked with landscape architecture practice Land Arkitektur to update the park, in a bid to counteract some of the urbanisation occurring in the park's suburban location.
"We wanted to make something exciting and unusual to inspire kids as well as adults to explore," studio founders Moa Andrén and Tove Fogelström told Dezeen.
"The idea came from a client who was inspired by the steep hill and the thought was that great balls would roll down the slope, almost as if a giant was throwing them," they continued.
A large orange sphere constructed out of perforated metal sheets sits at the top of the hill.
AndrénFogelström cut the metal into individual hexagons, before welding them together into the spherical structure.
The architects spent a long time working out how to make the structure look as though it were about to roll down the hill.
"It was an immense task during construction to make them fit together, and the structural engineer had a great deal of work just managing how to mark the pieces during the construction," AndrénFogelström said.
"It is a self-bearing construction where the parts support each other in the spheric form. It appears to be rolling down but is safely anchored to the ground," the architects explained.
Children and adults can enter the sphere through a circular opening to rest on its stepped wooden benches. At night, the sphere is lit by several small floor lights. Cables to the lights are threaded through the legs.
In the winter, the architects imagine that people will use the sphere as a starting point for sledging down the hill.
Three smaller spheres, which are positioned inside the playground at the foot of the hill, were made for younger children to play on and climb.
One sphere has a slide, another one has a little bench. All have small holes for peeking out of while playing.
Each of the spheres, which the studio thinks of as "little worlds," is made from wood which has been treated with linseed oil to increase its durability.
The frames, which stand on a block of concrete underneath the ground, are all made of steel.
Vårbergstoppen's unique geographical history also informed the architect's design choices. Swedish city landscape architect Holger Blom created Vårbergstoppen as an artificial hill in the 1960s.
The architects drew on the circular shapes Blom used, in an effort to honour his creation.
"The landscape was clearly designed, as the landscape architect who made the park in the 60s worked with forming the masses in geometric forms; the most significant one is a circular crater with a diameter of 100 meters," the studio said.
Other playgrounds that make use of playful, sculptural structures include The Folds by Atelier Scale in China which encourages children to explore in a more tactile way than usual.
Architecture office Studio Dlux created a multicoloured playground for children at a school in Curitiba that features curved mounds with tunnels for schoolchildren to climb through.
Photography is by Clément Morin unless stated otherwise.