From Ruins to Retail _
On the Road: Battersea Power Station
“The very building which once produced the energy that enabled people to eat, drink, shop, and play in the city, now provides the venue for a new generation to do the same.”
Almost a month on, and the long-awaited redevelopment of Battersea Power Station is still the topic on everyone’s lips! Opening on 14th October, over a quarter of a million people made the journey to visit this iconic landmark. The new playground not only offers a multitude of retail spaces but restaurants, homes, events, and leisure facilities, too!
Before we jump into sharing our favourite Battersea Power Station store launches with you and round off with our overall thoughts, let’s take a minute to look at why the power station is such an iconic landmark and what makes it the perfect location for a vibrant new community.
From the 1930s to the 1980s, Battersea Power Station was a fully working power station, and at its peak, was responsible for producing a 5th of London’s power, including supplying electricity to some of London’s most renowned buildings, such as Buckingham Palace and The Houses of Parliament.
Highly acclaimed British architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, who was also responsible for the design of the widely recognised red telephone boxes, made an enormous contribution to the design of the Battersea Power Station we know today. To put into perspective just how globally recognised the landmark is, during the Second World War, RAF pilots used the white vapour from the chimneys of the power station to guide them home in the thick fog. The German Air Force, Luftwaffe, also used its plumes for navigational purposes, which might just explain how it avoided extensive bombing.
As well as being an architectural icon, the power station also obtained notoriety in the music world when it became part of the artwork for Pink Floyd’s ‘Animals’ album cover in the 70s featuring an inflatable pig floating between the two southern chimneys.
Before it closed in 1983 and was subsequently left derelict for decades, Battersea Power Station was awarded Grade II listed status by Historic England, marking its special architectural and historic interest. It was later upgraded to Grade II* status, which is extremely prestigious, considering only 8% of all listed buildings have been awarded a grade higher than Grade II. This newly acquired status was brought in under the consideration of planning Battersea Power Station’s second life – ensuring that its character remains protected for future generations and informing the design for the stores and infrastructure within.
So, what does the inside of Battersea Power Station look like now? We highlight five new store launches inside Battersea that caught our eye – here are our Top Picks…
#1 – Sweaty Betty
The first store that caught our eye for its captivating window display featuring oversized speakers to mimic the shape of the brand’s circular logo was Sweaty Betty. This new store is the largest of its 84 stores worldwide and is Sweaty Betty’s first-ever concept store designed to reflect the brand’s ethos of empowering women through fitness.
The sleek and contemporary store called “Powerhouse” – how very apt – manages to seamlessly incorporate the power station’s industrial columns into the design scheme, despite its contrasting presentations. The open plan store is adorned with super soft surfaces and an oversized plush sofa to encourage visitors to sit, relax and simply enjoy existing within the space. At the rear of the store are spacious changing rooms, or “Power Pods”, fitted with flattering lighting and generously-sized mirrors – allowing customers to muse over the perfect purchase. The décor is largely neutral with the exception of Sweaty Betty’s new “Firebird” orange – accents of which can be found on the store’s façade, the mannequins, and Sweaty Betty’s newest products.
At the front of the store is a cinematic screen showcasing promotional footage of the brand’s most popular items including the newest ‘Power’ collection. “Powerhouse” will exist as part of Sweaty Betty’s new sustainable initiative, in collaboration with SEOX, whereby store staff will accept preloved items at their in-store recycling point to reduce the number of garments that end up in landfill.
#2 – Swatch
On the Battersea Power Station’s re-debut, customers were queuing outside of this store from 7am in the hopes of purchasing one of the highly anticipated and ultra-exclusive Moon Swatches! Alongside being home to the sought-after Moon Collection, this spacious and vibrant store also stocks Swatch’s original models, as well as other iconic collaborations.
Each collection is separated into distinct categories that work together for a cohesive aesthetic. The large wall-mounted product displays allow for sufficient walkway space so that customers can seamlessly navigate and browse the product on offer within the store. The power station’s original structural columns, similar to those found in the Sweaty Betty store, break up the space, allowing for moments of discovery within the customer journey – such as at the Swatch X You station, where customers can enjoy an experience of personalisation and customization as they design their very own Swatch watch.
Throughout the cool-lilac and white store adorned with original metalwork and tiles, motion and tactility are achieved through interactive touchpoints, rotating product displays, and digital screens, which can be seen from the outside – inviting passers-by into Swatch’s world.
#3 – Mulberry
As an expression of its brand positioning, Mulberry has imprinted its quintessentially British spirit into a Battersea store that perfectly promotes their luxury products. The brand has transformed the industrial and rustic feel of the building into a rich contemporary feature to create a beautiful amalgamation of the two aesthetics through pastel colouring, exposed brick walls, plush furnishings, and curved yet simplistic product displays.
To promote its latest collection for the upcoming festive season, both windows are embellished with multicoloured vinyl sculptures, whilst the handbag and purse wall on the far side of the store, which features popular heritage styles including Mulberry’s iconic Bayswater handbag, forms a striking display. Customers can book one-to-one appointments with Mulberry specialists, get personalised monogramming on a number of items, and purchase pre-loved styles through Mulberry’s circular economy programme – acknowledgement of the environmental impact of the current supply chain in the fashion industry and what it means for the future.
#4 – Petit Pli
For those that are new to Petit Pli, they are a sustainable brand that crafts clothing which grows with your child. The brand name translates as ‘little fold’ and the products consist of exactly that, with some designs lasting up to seven years. This innovative brand is the brainchild of founder and former aeronautical engineer, Ryan Mario Yasin, who used his knowledge of deployable satellite technology and its concertina-style space rover as his inspiration.
Due to the brand having such deep connections to the moon, the founder wanted it to inform the design of this store. All four walls are masked in a cool grey clay-based plaster to evoke the surface of the moon, within which, customers are challenged with trying to locate the buried moon boot print. The rawness of the walls is made futuristic by halo lighting and reflective aluminium panelling – helping to expand the perceived size of the space. The two central lab-inspired product display tables for the otherworldly and award-winning products are simplistic but befit their environment.
Spanning across the entire storefront is a mechanical window display showcasing Petit Pli’s key products that act as a physical representation of the product’s properties and a very unique selling point that has propelled the brand to where it is now.
#5 – Calvin Klein
Last but definitely not least is the new home for the bold and globally recognised products of Calvin Klein. The refined and timeless concept of the store is a testament to the Calvin Klein brand and its core identity. It acts as a one-stop shop, with womenswear, menswear, accessories, and the iconic underwear collection all under one roof.
This store also takes on a monochromatic colour palette but is kept fresh with pops of green through decorative foliage to break up the space. However, the focal point of the store in the centre is the spacious sculptural fitting room pod covered in enlarged editorial graphics.
Sat amongst the brand’s tried and tested products, as well as new collections, is a luxurious lounge area allowing customers to rest and socialise, indicating Calvin Klein’s response to a new shopping age where consumers are looking for additional elements within stores that will enhance their shopping experience.
Thoughts from our Marketing Executive, Georgie Lee:
The redevelopment of the Power Station itself is, of course, an enormous part of the project but is not the sole focus – it is the redevelopment of the entire area which has created an exciting and innovative new communal destination within the capital.
Battersea Power Station breathes new life into London. The transformation and repurposing of the iconic landmark is incredible, and it is so exciting to see so many brands paying homage to their surroundings in the design of their store interiors. To see the extensive range of brands available, from high-end to the high street, sat side by side, is so refreshing – making it an accessible shopping destination for all.
There really is no substitute for visiting this new retail and social hub in person to really capture the buzz of the community and the vast shopping experience that Battersea Power Station offers.