The Art of the White Rabbit Store
X + Living reorganises and reimagines the spatial experience and visual design of a well-known national brand of China, the White Rabbit Global Flagship Store located at the JKS Arts and Cultural Center in the Fengxian district of Shanghai.
SCALE has always been intrigued by the designs from X +Living. Designs that are exuberant and bordering on dramatic with loud design features and stunning imagery that recreated masterpieces of drab libraries to cinematic settings of theatres or showrooms, X + Living has always made it to our curation for the sheer surprise it springs on our readers.
Here the design firm reimagines a brand that with its popularity, sometimes even the negative press is long associated with China and goes back with a history as long back as the 1940s.
“As a long-established brand, White Rabbit has been adhering to its business philosophy of embracing constant changes in line with the rapid development of modern business. While maintaining good memories and keeping pace with the times, White Rabbit, titled as “guochao”, or Chinese fad has forged numerous cross-border cooperation in recent years. All these efforts have prompted its successful transformation through design,” says Li Xiang, the versatile designer behind X + Living.
The concept is like a dreamy fairy tale. The designer boldly breaks away from the original layout and traditional retail store design ideas, turning the entire space into a large art installation.
Within the 200 square meters space, the 3D-printed streamline shape simulates the flow of milk, which is an artistic abstract expression to humorously narrate the production process: the seemingly enchanting flowing milk that eventually turns into creamy candies on the shelf. The walls facing the walkway are all floor-to-ceiling glass so that the overall design of the store is clearly visible to people outside the store. The illustration-style green plants and the brand mascot rabbit on the window sticker adds a touch of nostalgic storytelling to the whole space as if falling down a rabbit hole and entering a sweet and pure white whirlpool by accident. The spherical lights dotted irregularly in the room, haloed with shimmering light, and renders a surreal magic filter to the space.
Behind the artistic space, the designer makes the best of the functional integration of multifunctional shelves. The pleated texture using streamline shape is cleverly evolved into different sizes of shelves and adjustable bar shelves to flexibly display different types of products. In addition, the designer also carefully embeds shaped cabinets and freezers into the overall installation to meet the needs of special merchandise displays.
Using the brand wrappers as an experimental sample, the designer extracts the brand-related graphic and textual elements and gives them functional meaning, cleverly blending all elements into the existence of the overall installation.
The rabbit-shaped decorative lace evolves into a shelf for subsequent operations to exhibit recommended products or star products. The decorative strip inspired by the tear line guides the route for consumer exploration and adds interest to the space. The drawing board table and resting seat, which are integrated with the shape of the installation, meet different functional needs of consumers.
The seemingly random shape of the overall installation actually has a carefully planned layout, so as to stretch and extend the consumer’s wandering path.
The colour scheme follows brand colours “red, white and blue” throughout. The use of large splashes of pure white makes the installation appear transparent and dynamic. The polished blue terrazzo floor while the mirrored ceiling reflects the ground, making consumers feel as if they are in some surreal space that is frozen in time. The red colour is basically used as a decorative element on the pendants and decorative strips, in the form of lines and geometric figures.
There is no shop window as the designer prefers to open up the store making the entire store visible from the glass windows and also bringing attention to the installation.
“The design of the White Rabbit Global Flagship Store is an experimental blueprint of art intervention in commerce, and a design challenge that contains complexity in simplicity. It not only revolutionises consumers’ ordinary imagination of commercial space, but also resembles a discussion on the service attributes of future consumption places. It dissolves the boundary between art and commerce and provides an immersive spatial experience, and uses design to reach the deeper artistry of space,” says Li Xiang.
Project Name: White Rabbit Global Flagship Store
Location: Shanghai, China
Project Area: 260 Sq Metre
Completion time: 2021.7
Design Company: X+Living
Chief Designer: Li Xiang
Design Team: Li Yaping, Jiang Xueping, Li Baojun
All Images Courtesy: X + Living