Retail Focus

Rubaiyat, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

The 2,100m2 concept store, the first luxury store of its kind for women in Saudi, marks a radical departure from the vast shopping malls or large department stores that typify the Middle Eastern luxury retail market. Instead, it offers a boutique feel, with a curated luxury fashion collection on display, more akin to an art gallery than a retail space.

Virgile + Partners designed the space to capture the essence of local culture with a modern twist, avoiding cliché design conventions and creating large-scale sculptural design features that create a showcase for luxury brands, including Gucci, Balenciaga and St. Laurent.

Virgile + Partners worked with Rubaiyat to create a unique design vocabulary for the store, where anchor statement highlights are juxtaposed with unusually formed display tables and plinths, complemented by simple rails. The combination of luxury marbles with more architectural concrete and the use of unique textures and colours throughout the store create a distinctive, dynamic Rubaiyat identity.

The design architecture is buttressed by large abstract artwork panels produced by local artists, each with their own style and tone, linked as a ‘larger than life’ art exhibition. The store also features a luxury café, where shoppers can relax, visually connected to the mezzanine through a small sculptural void. A mini-spa extends the experience, making the store a destination in its own right.

Carlos Virgile, Director at Virgile + Partners, said, “Rubaiyat is the pinnacle of Middle Eastern luxury fashion retail, so our design work and visual language needed to reflect this. The design approach blends the often subtle boundaries between Fashion and Art, encouraging customers to perceive a retail environment from a new perspective – more creative and unexpected – evolving their preconceptions of what a store experience could be, and adding an element of curiosity and excitement.”

This article first appeared on Retail Focus.