The newly-opened Hyundai department store in Ilsan, just outside Seoul, is the kind of thing that you just don’t see in Europe or North America these days. This is 430,000 sq ft of retail space, organised over 10 floors, with everything from a supermarket and deli in the basement, to a cultural centre and theatre on the 10th floor.
It also happens to offer an alternative to the normal department store modus operandi that is followed in this part of the world - which tends to be distinctly Japanese in feel. Instead, Hyundai called upon the services of London consultancy HMKM to create the store interior with a brief to design an environment that would provide a more European shopping experience, which it felt would provide a significant point of difference from its local rivals.
The outcome is a spectacular palace of plenty and the supermarket in the basement is particularly noteworthy with a curving white perimeter featuring an extended white frieze that contrasts dramatically with the black ceiling and gondolas.
This is also not an extension of an existing structure, as tends to happen in Europe, but has been built from scratch in the new 1.8 million sq ft Lakins mall, of which it is the anchor store.
It’s symptomatic of the way things are in store design at the moment, that a retailer should think not just beyond its immediate borders, but outside the continent in which it is located. For those who have visited any East Asian, and particularly Korean or Japanese department stores, this will come as something of a shot in the arm.