Our new shop opens in four weeks!
When design work began in late March, we wanted to uncover the true architectural skeleton of the site. What appeared to be part of the original Victorian building is in fact something of a pastiche. Originally a lofty double-height gallery, the space was modified in the mid 1970s, when a mezzanine floor was installed to provide storage for the National Art Library. The doric columns running down the central aisle were in fact steel supports with modern cladding, and the ceiling was a suspended structure, hanging about a metre below the girders and the new floor.
Great, we all thought, we can create a raw space, by uncovering the steel and the concrete....except when the ceiling was opened up there was no concrete. Apparently cost-saving was as essential 50 years ago as it is now, and what was planned as a robust concrete slab was in fact built from ply (with the bookshelves neatly lined up above the girders which took their weight).
With some quick design revision, however, it was still possible to retain elements of this structure and to construct new display systems around it. When the shop reopens in May, visitors will now be able to see both the historic fabric - including some original brickwork uncovered during the strip out - and later additions, laying bare the story of the building's development.
An international competition was launched to appoint a designer to redesign the V&A Shop, South Kensington. The contract was awarded to a collective of designers and makers whose aim is to showcase and promote creative and manufacturing processes. Since their appointment in June, Friend and Co Architects and Millimetre Design have collaborated closely with V&A staff to develop plans that offer a fully flexible space – a shop that is both functional and beautiful, with a strong emphasis on material. The new shop will house two new structures; a dedicated pavilion for our unparalleled range of jewellery and a ‘pocket workshop’, a curated space where product from selected designers and makers will be on display. There will also be opportunities to learn more about the products, uncover hidden stories, processes and people behind what we sell. Because this is what the new shop is all about – encouraging curiosity and treating every space in the museum as a site for inspiration.
During the redesign, please visit our temporary shop at the end of the sculpture gallery or shop online. The Fashion Shop and Book Shop are open as normal.