From King’s Road to Covent Garden – the central London flagship store is an ode to design, hosting exhibits, selling fashion and design, and South American and African Crafts
Last March saw the opening of a new concept store by the Jigsaw group: The Shop at Bluebird. Inaugurated thirteen years ago on King’s Road, in the borough of Chelsea, the shop has now relocated. It has moved to a more central location in Covent Garden, at number 29 Floral Street, a Grade II-listed building spanning 1400 square meters over three floors. The focus has shifted from its old affluent clientele to tourists – more foot traffic equals more potential customers. The Covent Garden Bluebird project has been entrusted to Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KFP), the NYC architecture firm behind the Rosewood Hotel in Hong Kong and One Vanderbilt at the heart of Manhattan, which, upon completion, will stand 427 meters tall in Hudson Yards.
The center of the store glows with natural light that filters through the glass ceiling. The cobbled floors are reminiscent of the open air courtyards of the old mansions. In the middle of the atrium, surrounded by balconies decorated with hanging vases and plants, there’s an installation: an Icosahedron, whose twenty mirrored faces reflect and distort its surroundings, as does the underside of the staircase leading up to the first floor. The décor and design recreate, as stated by interior designer David Dalziel, a ‘Playground of Wonders.’ “Art has always been a core part of The Shop at Bluebird. The space has been designed to gradually reveal its theatrical interior,” writes Dalziel on his website. Dalziel co-founded the design agency Dalziel & Pow, which specializes in the furnishing of concept stores and boutiques for high fashion brands.
The Floral Street flagship is located in a 19th century coach house, and is a Grade II-listed building, which grants it government protection. Its 1400 square meters cover three floors, all facing an internal courtyard. From the entrance, visitors walk below a plant-covered ceiling to reach the main atrium, encircled by three galleried floors. William Ling, founder of the Illustration Gallery and husband to the artist, designer and illustrator Tanya Ling, has curated the art hanging from one of the walls. The second floor is an open plan space housing a cocktail bar, a restaurant, a roof terrace and, since last summer, concessions for Blink Brow Bar, Italian brand Fornasetti, and the Avery Perfume Gallery.
Besides designer brands, The Shop at Bluebird has decided to open its doors to craftsmanship with pop-ups from Culture and Craftsmanship and Postcards from Latin America, dedicated to introducing shoppers to Latin American and Middle Eastern brands selling giftware, accessories, jewellery and prêt-a-porter garments that are usually not stocked in U.K. markets. Among these is Venezuelan designer Monica Sordo; Brazilian brand Waiwai, which was founded by stylist Leo Neves in 2015 and produces handbags juxtaposing cylindrical and circular shapes in palm wood and poly-methacrylate – the polymer plexiglass is made from; Vanda Jacintho, another Brazilian stylist whose career started on Vogue Brazil at the age of seventeen, makes garments and jewellery from sustainable materials such as resin, mahogany and silk which, as per company policy, is only extracted after the butterfly has left the cocoon. From the Middle East, Dubai-based lebanese artist Nathalie Trad makes purses from mother-of-pearl and abalone shells, wood, and resin. Africa, too, had a spot this year: for six weeks the Bluebird hosted twenty African brands ranging from women’s clothing to accessories in a pop-up called Between Us, curated by the director of the Lagos Fashion Week, Omoyemi Akerele.
The Shop at Bluebird is part of multimillion group Jigsaw, the London chain founded in 1972 by John and Belle Robinson and Malcolm Webster. It boasts former employees such as Kate Middleton, who worked as a personal shopper between 2006 and 2007. The group belongs to parent holding company Robinson Webster Ltd. Jigsaw, which was initially born as an affordably-priced women’s and children’s clothing store, is now a growing and debt-free group, according to the Financial Times. In Italy, Jigsaw was introduced through Coin in 2017. The Shop at Bluebird does not have its own ecommerce site, but relies instead on the platform Farfetch.com. In 2017, the Jigsaw group registered a 45% increase in online revenue for a total of 15.9 million pounds in earnings, almost 27% of all sales.
Text Valerio Piperata
Translated from the original Italian by Chiara Manni
Carriage Hall, 29 Floral St,
Covent Garden, London