The mysteriously-named Black Cant System, a project by AN Studio for the Heike fashion store, is a poetic conceptual and spatial experiment and an innovative example of interior design for an independent fashion brand. The project convinced the jury at Inside Festival, which named it World Interior of the Year 2016, precisely because “it calls into question the conventional idea of a fashion retail store.”
The enigmatic narrative underlying the project is ‘staged’, and partly hidden, with an intense noir mood on the second floor of a furniture store in the city of Hangzhou. “Its movement brings energy to reshape the space. We call it physical movement of poems. It is a black crossing, through black. A melancholy and futuristic sense of zen.”
The crossing of the space between the two levels, the stairway, is simultaneously concealed and enhanced by a sculptural black block, the ‘Black Cant’, a sort of large slanted wedge that separates by connecting and incorporates the passage from the ground floor, access to the store and the container for the fitting room and stock areas.
The dark and invasive volume is inserted by the architects as a ‘text’ on a blank page to shape and confer meaning to the austere and almost brutalist environment, which serves as a store and a gallery for exhibitions and events.
The sombre but refined atmosphere, the perfect setting for a story about our future, is achieved with geometric, cutting shapes, minimal furnishings and a varied range of materials – concrete, steel, aluminum and mirrors – and textures, matt and shiny, in strictly gray and black shades, eloquent signs of craftsmanship. Such as the raw concrete construction and the polished floors, the steel window structures and hangers, the intensely black marble dust finish and the polished metals.
Location: Binjiang District, Binsheng road 4309, Hangzhou, China
Client: HEIKE/Laohei fashion design studio
Design team: Shanwei Weng & Jiadie Yuan/AN Interior Design, Hangzhou
Area: 200 sq m
Completed: 25 October 2015
Photos: ©Yujie Liu & Jianzhou Wang