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David Adjaye Creates Rugged Retail Space With Corrugated Concrete Walls

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The space is for Italian leather goods brand Valextra

Last fall, we declared that Tanzanian-born British architect David Adjaye was having a moment. Not only did the Art Institute of Chicago hold a retrospective of his work, President Obama tapped Adjaye as one of seven finalists in the competition to design his presidential center in Chicago. The Adjaye-designed National Museum of African-American History and Culture is slated to open this fall on the Mall in Washington, D.C., and there is, of course, the behemoth, ambitious subsidized housing complex Adjaye designed in Manhattan's Harlem neighborhood.

Now, Adjaye can add this compact retail space in London's Harrods department store for Italian luxury leather goods brand Valextra to his résumé. The open-plan corner boutique features three concrete walls with deep, dramatic corrugations (which in some ways call to mind Sugar Hill's precast-concrete facade). A mix of rectangular and asymmetrical cubbies carved out of the walls act as display spaces for bags, wallets, and other products.

A smooth, rectangular concrete block at the center of the space accommodates the register and additional leather goods in several of its cut-out platforms and bespoke boxes. The juxtaposition between the smooth, colorful leather pieces and the stark, muscular concrete that surrounds them makes for striking visuals and a certain "rhythm." Indeed, it was Valextra's own commitment to craft that inspired Adjaye. He tells Designboom:

I like the meeting between modern design and timeless techniques of execution that enhances Valextra’s approach, pure and sophisticated. The brand's attention to detail and its passion for unique leather is very evident in the product, and that is exactly what drove me while working on this project.