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A Holistic Approach to Retail Design

Shopping is just the tip of the iceberg at lifestyle store Caelum Greene. We talk to Founder Charlotte Tsuei about how she brings sustainability, mindfulness and the community into the design for her first Hong Kong boutique.

A Holistic Approach to Retail Design

Caelum Greene is about not only retail, but also the community; a state of mind that’s echoed by the design for the brand’s flagship store on Hong Kong’s Hollywood Road. The lifestyle store, which sells a range of athleisure brands, intimates, homewares, stationery and other items geared at the style-savvy city girl, is the brainchild of Charlotte Tsuei.

Caelum Greene’s Founder saw a gap in the market when it came to the needs and interests of the modern-day woman “who tries to better herself physically, emotionally and spiritually,” she says.

Environmental sustainability is a core part of Caelum Greene’s DNA, and it comes through in both the brand offering and the store’s interiors. “We try to do as much as we can to be sustainable. It’s about small steps; actively mindful steps,” says Tsuei.

“A lot of the elements in the store have been upcycled or recycled,” says Tsuei of the store’s design. The wooden displays in the windows, for example, were once posts used as line posts for cable and wiring. “We work with a company that treats them and turns them into something else,” Tsuei explains.

The displays themselves also regularly feature recycled elements, such as pieces of old newspaper that have been dip-dyed in tea and turned into flowers. The mannequins are also a socially responsible choice for the store: Tsuei and her team worked with a manufacturer, Fusion Specialties, “which has been awarded for its major conservation efforts,” says Tsuei. Fusion Specialties creates hand-crafted mannequins to size using a special material called E-Flex™ polyurethane, low VOC epoxy resins and cardboard packaging that is recycled out of 43 percent post-consumer waste and that is also 100 percent recyclable.

With its chic, white-and-black interiors and its terrace designed for community workshops and events, the space may be green and gorgeous now, but it wasn’t always this way. “It was an antique shop for many years. The flooring and the walls had never been done properly and they weren’t in a great state. So we really had to build the place from scratch,” says Tsuei.

Probably the biggest challenge design-wise was the central column, which juts into the front half of the store. It is actually the entrance to the flats that inhabit the building Caelum Greene calls home, with a door on the street smack-bang in the centre of the store’s windows. Tsuei and her designer worked around this by using the column’s walls as display racks and shelving for clothes, and for the homewares the store stocks.

The way they have treated the column is effective, and the store’s striking, wooden facade detracts from the residential entrance, too. The overall effect is vibrant and dynamic; a fitting reflection of the interactive, connected brand Tsuei hopes to build.

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