Camper has an impressive track record of working with design stars–including the Campana brothers, Jaime Hayon, and Martí Guixé–to create quirky retail spaces dipped in the Spanish shoe brand’s signature red hue. But after years of opening fun shops that reflect the playfulness of its shoes, the company seems to be going in a different direction, enlisting the help of designers like Shigeru Ban to craft a relatively minimalist interior that puts the product front and center. And for its latest project, a small shop in Osaka, the company turned to the feverishly prolific Japanese firm Nendo, which designed a white interior with a floating trail of shoes.
It’s an effect that Nendo frontman Oti Sato employed last year for a stunning exhibition of hats suspended in midair. According to Nendo’s press release: “We decided that the raison d’être of Camper shoes is neither to help people run more quickly nor to give the wearer recognizable status through “bling,” but simply to help people enjoy walking.” Mounted on thin metal rods, the shoes seem to stroll around through the store on their own; even the display shelves undulate, with some of the shoes appearing to hover in place. The only pops of color can be found in the red stools and Camper’s recognizable tag logo.
Is it a successful space? In many respects, yes: It strips away most of the distractions and focuses the consumer’s gaze on the important stuff: the shoes. The question is how effectively it communicates the Spanish brand, not just the designer’s aesthetic. As much as I respect both players, this mismatched pairing strikes me as a less than perfect fit.