Westfield Stratford City can overwhelm as you are assaulted by retail brand messages at every turn across all three of its long, long floors.
An oasis of calm awaits, however: Foyles, on the centre’s lowest level – it is hard to tell whether this is the ground floor or not. As is the case in most Westfield stores, a double-height frontage ensures that you see the product – books – clearly, but not as you might encounter in a more traditional volume-selling retailer. Instead, internally lit boxes form plinths for a seasonal window that really does make you want to take a look.
Within, more books and a smattering of related gifts are enhanced by a sleek red, white and black colour scheme with monochrome graphics on the walls.
In this two-floor enterprise, those seeking a moment of rest can put their feet up courtesy of the leather banquettes surrounding a mid-shop wood-clad pillar. The cash desk is formed of books piled horizontally in a manner that may appear haphazard, but which continues the message that this is a store for tome seekers.
Upstairs, things revert to a more library-led ambience, accessed by a staircase featuring light boxes and a shelf with gifts set against the wall. Here, the offer is organised by specialist categories, with more seating and a silent atmosphere, even though there are no signs telling you to be quiet.
In Westfield, it is difficult for any shop to attract attention when the promotional nature of every store-front is taken into account, but Foyles’ subdued and quietly stylish environment, created by design consultancy Lustedgreen, guarantees that it will get its fair share of admirers and should stay the course in the long term.