Harrods: A timeless yet modern approach
As part of a ten-year grand renovation, London department store Harrods has continued to refresh major elements of its famous store, modernising the environment and creating contemporary spaces while respecting its timeless magic. umdasch remains on the journey with Harrods, recreating signature areas and reimagining the offer.
The long-standing relationship between umdasch and Harrods is emblematic of the deep heritage that the two usinesses have within retailing. Harrods is arguably the most famous and historic department store in the world and umdasch has been in existence for over 150 years and has remained focused on both traditional values and innovation. It is this combined pedigree that has been brought together during the modernisation and restoration of key elements of the Harrods flagship store in Knightsbridge, London.
Ten-year grand renovation
This started with the successful renovation of Harrods Roastery & Bakehall in 2017 as well as Harrods Wine & Spirits and Cigars in 2018. Subsequently, umdasch was commissioned for more projects as part of a ten-year grand renovation. 2019 saw umdasch provide a wide variety of services within the Harrods store in departments including the Dining Hall, Men’s International Designer Room 1, Beds and Harrods Signature as well as the Gift Wrap area, while in 2020 Men’s Shoes and Seasonal & Books have been completed. Another milestone: the completion of H beauty Lakeside Shopping Centre, a first-of-its-kind beauty hall outside the flagship store in Knightsbridge.
Menswear - A major focus
David Collins Studio – which is responsible for the revamp and relocation of the entire Menswear offer – designed the Men’s International Designer Room 1 as part of a complete overhaul of the Menswear section. It is a super-luxe space that combines contemporary stainless steel with nero marquina black marble. The department also includes two pop-up spaces that change monthly. The look and feel of the space is very luxurious, with inlaid marble floors, fitting rooms lined in leather and marble railings. The design concept had also to respect the historical aspects of the building.
“The design centralised around the traditional feel of the Harrods look, made the most of the historic architecture, while intertwining modern accents of monochromatic and geometric patterns,” reflects Simon Wait, Sales Director Premium Retail UK. “We have had such a long working relationship with Harrods, and some of the luxury brands within it, and the common thread is a completely uncompromising approach to quality. Everything had to be right. That has been challenging but also very exciting and rewarding.”
The taste revolution at Harrods
The 500 m2 Dining Hall – a Global RLI Awards 2020 Highly Commended project – has also been transformed with luxurious material and exquisite designs, in what the department dubs ‘The Taste Revolution’. The wide variety of eateries serve seasonal foods from six new restaurants. An array of glass, marble, mirrors, wood and solid antique brass enchants visitors in the luxury atmosphere.
In addition, the new layout more than doubled the previous seating capacity, while still feeling spacious and comfortable.
Working again in collaboration with David Collins Studio, the project had numerous unique requirements. With such a historic building, with listed, painted tiles that line the room from floor to ceiling, the focus of the revamp was on preserving the heritage and atmosphere. The fixtures and fittings supplied by umdasch created a contrast between antique and modern to create a luxury atmosphere.
“In an industry where fit-outs can be replaced quite quickly, it was unique to work on refurbishments that are so reflective of Harrods and where the food hall shopfit was from the 1980s,” says Roman Fußthaler, Managing Director Premium Retail. “So we had to create something that was both contemporary but also that will stand the test of time.”
Contrasting, unique departments
The most recent projects have been sharply contrasting. On the one hand, the Men’s Shoes department is part of the phased redevelopment of Menswear, on the other the Gift Shop and Seasonal & Books are targeted at tourists.
Men’s Shoes is an 850 m2 area, designed by David Collins Studio. The department is dedicated to male footwear and created in an opulent environment, underpinned by a high attention to detail and the use of high quality materials like marble, specialist leather, mirror polished stainless steel, smoked glass. “Men’s Shoes again reflects the integrity of what Harrods has been doing to position its contemporary Menswear offer,” recalls Roman Fußthaler. “With so much retail understandably focused on female customers, it has been fascinating to deliver a large project dedicated to men.”
By contrast, the areas focused on tourists required a different approach, because rather than appealing to the long-standing Harrods regular customer they need to attract tourists who might simply be purchasing a pen or a cuddly toy. “There is a huge amount that can be achieved with the visual merchandising,” says Roman Fußthaler. “Again, there was no compromise on quality. All areas have to embody the Harrods image.”