Project type: Duty Free Shop
Location: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Creating a local sense of place via retail design, we chose the falcon, this elegant bird of prey that is connected with the UAE in many symbolic ways. It is both historic tradition and the rapidly modernizing culture of the UAE. The new Heinemann Duty Free shop in Abu Dhabi’s Midfield Terminal aims to provide an upscale, generously appointed, visually intriguing retail environment of hospitality which calls inspiration from this falcon. With this in mind, this space draws upon the once and still popular tradition of Falconry, in a physical expression of both stunning elegance and bold agility. While beautiful in movement, falconry represents a precision exercise, translating the gracefulness of the hunter into a high tech functional application. Each feather is overlaid and shaped to serve a purpose, working in unison, as the bird dives from above.
The design of the new space calls upon this dichotomy, expressing beauty in soft, elegant form, juxtaposed with precise, patterned aesthetics recalling the Falcon. The formal drivers for the space are a series of sweeping lines, reaching and wrapping to create an open, inviting sales floor. These soft lines are repeated throughout the furniture and shelving and, giving the feeling of gentle, graceful movement.
At the center, in a grand gesture the Falcon swoops into the space from above, in the form of a dynamic suspended sculpture. Individual elements overlap and pattern to create the dynamic form and the ambient sky-like light piercing through creates the impression of fluttering, perhaps even feathers, rushing by above. This main element, the falcon, is as well informing the store as a whole in terms of materiality and color.
The Sales Floor
The sales floor is organized around a single circulatory loop, anchored by the central sculpture. The space is populated by a series of Gondolas, designed to the modular in assembly, and arranged in a series of islands along the loop. Each module is calibrated to a specific use, creating specialized configurations which do not repeat throughout the shop. Both shelves and multimedia screens flank the sales floor, creating a constantly changing and engaging experience for the visitor.
Martini Promotion Area
From the main terminal space, the strongest visual presence is that of the Martini Promotion stand, centered between the beginning and end of the loop. The typology of the central Falcon sculpture repeats to draw attention to the multifunctional merchandising self/car stand. The bar and display cases stand as islands, creating a free space to experience the merchandise.
Humidor and Wine Cabinet
The Humidor and Wine Cabinet provide a place to retreat, offering a generous atmosphere apart from the main shop to show our hospitality. Natural, darker materials contrast with the contemporary digital technology from the main shop, creating a comfortable, yet novel space geared towards a more personal experience.
The Falcon Sculpture – the Wow factor
The Falcon sculpture circles above, creating a lighting and ceiling structure, and dives into the space creating specialty display shelves and a central visual hub for the shop. The structure itself, while complex in form, is constructed of folded aluminum elements. Six unique element sizes are used to achieve the form, and four finishes are distributed to mimic the patterning of the falcon’s wing in flight. Portions of the structure are fixed to arcing beams above, invisible to the viewer below, while portions that reach into the space are self-supporting, as achieved through a network of linear connections between the individual elements. This system gives the appearance of a lightweight, dynamic structure, speckled with light. And at the same time is an engineer’s masterpiece of execution.
Ambient lighting above the sculpture shifts, reflecting through the perforated panels and giving the visitor the feeling of movement, a rustling above. Directional lighting mounted within the voids of the sculpture itself create focused lighting on the individual sales areas.