Engagement with retail space can come in many forms, and it was a reinterpretation of a gallery experience that formed the design foundation for Oblica’s new retail showroom and office fitout in Abbotsford, Melbourne. Designed by Benjamin Fretard of Fretard Design, the showroom is located within an existing 800sqm industrial warehouse and places the user at the centre of a meandering journey, through a layering of spaces designed to immerse and engage. The concept was informed by the product itself, and the notion that the unique aesthetic and inherent beauty of the fireplaces as objects were deserving of a gallery-like representation.
Like a true gallery experience, the visitor is taken on a curated journey from the arrival point through two inter-connecting rooms in varying themes and scales to help the visitor engage and envisage how the product could translate into their own space. Fretard arranged the plan as a series of informal display zones, each curated to evoke a different mood and best represent a brand or fireplace. Built-in fireplaces are integrated against perimeter walls and towards the rear of the space in coloured blocks of joinery, paying homage to Oblica’s palette, while the well-admired Focus fireplaces are positioned centrally, allowing space for viewing from all sides. Termed the “Focus forest”, Fretard Design strategically located the cluster of hanging volumes to be visible from the entry, creating a juncture to which visitors will continually return.
In keeping with the gallery theme, new lighting was introduced throughout and a raw material expression was designed for joinery and wall treatments to reflect Oblica’s industrial language, creating a background aesthetic to allow the product to be the real hero in the space.