Since its founding in 1868, umdasch The Store Makers, a family-owned business of four generations, has remained focused on the traditional values of corporate sustainability: reliability, trust and responsibility. This marriage of heritage and modernity has made the company the ideal long-term partner for iconic Knightsbridge department store Harrods, says Roman Fussthaler, Managing Director of Premium Retail.
It has been another busy year for umdasch, building on the successful integration of two companies into umdasch The Store Makers and the celebration of its 150th year in business during 2018. Among its many projects worldwide, the company has continued to deliver new depar tments within iconic Knightsbridge department store Harrods in London, as part of the retailer’s long-term revitalisation.
‘The project was recognised when I accepted an RLI Highly Commended Award for Interior Excellence for umdasch’s crucial part in the successful renovation of the Harrods Wine & Spirits section‘ says Roman Fussthaler, Managing Director of Premium Retail at umdasch The Store Makers. While a number of chain department stores around Europe and the US have struggled to adapt to the demands of omni-channel retailing and changing consumer behaviours; by contrast iconic flagship department stores continue to thrive around the world. What distinguishes such retailers is the creation of genuinely unique spaces, where customers can see things not available elsewhere – from luxury merchandise to bespoke experiences.
London landmark Harrods is a great example of this approach and most recently – having previously completed the refurbishment of The Roast and Bake Hall, The Champagne, Wines and Spirits Hall, The Men’s International Design Room 1 and The Harrods Signature Hall – umdasch delivered the third phase of the historic food halls: The Dining Hall.
‘This represents just one part of the ten-year plan to renovate the iconic Knightsbridge store, covering a space of 500sq m which opened in June 2019. To showcase the trendsetting ability of Harrods, Knightsbridge as a flagship store and to help transform it into a 21st Century retailer, umdasch was commissioned to provide the design engineering, manufacturing, delivery and installation services,’ explains Fussthaler. Working again in collaboration with the David Collins Studio to redesign this unique room was a project which had many unique requirements. With such a historic building, with its listed, painted tiles that line the room from floor to ceiling, the focus of the revamp and design was on preserving the cherished heritage and atmosphere. The ceiling was cleaned to bring out the beautiful colours and patterns. This canopy of detailed tiles frames, the fixtures and fittings supplied by umdasch, created a contrast between the antique and the modern.
Only the best, top quality materials were used for the new design. Specially-treated, smooth leather covers the seats, with beautiful trimmings and little exotic bird emblems on the back of the Wine Bar seats in the centre of the Dining Hall. An array of glass, marble, mirrors, wood and solid antique brass enchant visitors in the luxury atmosphere. Round, globeshaped lamps with brass hardware light illuminate individual areas. Lighting Design International provided the lighting design, highlighting the classy metals and shiny tiles, while in keeping with the antique touches of the historic building.
‘Before the renovation, the Dining Hall offered various top quality, counter-seated dining. The new layout allows for over double the seating capacity than previously available, however it still feels spacious and comfortable due to the clever seating plan and high quality furniture. The new concept also shows various mini banquet-seating areas, some lining the newly separated eateries and some around separate tables in a cosy dining corner and a long dining table, separated into intimate pairs by lights,’ Fussthaler says. umdasch was previously commissioned to work in collaboration with David Collins Studio to revamp the Men’s International Designer Room 1 of the Menswear section in Harrods. In response to an increase in customer demand and ground-breaking innovations within the sector, Harrods planned to invest in an exciting redevelopment of Menswear within the store. David Collins Studio drew up a spectacular design concept, in keeping with the historical aspects of the building, and worked together with umdasch on a successful concept implementation in the Men’s International Designer Room 1. umdasch provided the engineering drawings, furniture manufacturing, delivery and installation and the room reopened last year with this whole new look.
To create the required atmosphere, ambient and task lighting was installed, drawing the eye to spaces of interest. Top class materials were used throughout, including beautiful oak, brass and specialist glass, again mixing the traditional and the luxury. ‘The concept idea was to create luxury within a homely ambience to welcome customers searching for new, innovative and great quality clothing. With 100sq m of space on the main central carpet, 12 specialist clothes rails, a circular central counter and fitting room, surrounded by concessions and a flowing walkway around the shop floor, this task was a complex one. The design concept centralised around the traditional feel of the Harrods look, made the most of the historic architecture while intertwining modern accents of monochromatic and geometric patterns’ reflects Fussthaler. So, Harrods perfectly reflects the ambition to create unique, one-of-a-kind environments in flagship department stores. The long-term work with Harrods has also encompassed its grocery, cafe and dining options; and for all these departments umdasch has been able to use its craft history and modern manufacturing and design techniques to celebrate heritage but deliver a modern retail offer.