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A biophilic affair: Fred Rigby and Oliver Heath at L’Estrange

Grounded in biophilic principles, the London store uses sensory experiences at every touchpoint – from lighting to materiality and audio.

22/05/2023 2 min read

Images: Felix Speller

Committed to their pursuit of degrowth in the fashion industry and in line with the brand’s ‘With Less, Do More’ motto, L’Estrange co-founders Tom Horne and Will Green enlisted biophilic design specialist Oliver Heath and British designer Fred Rigby to bring nature-orientated interiors to life. The menswear brand’s new store in Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross, combines natural textures and repurposed materials throughout, “the vision of the business is to create a new paradigm for the way we consume – bringing consumption back in line with the planet.” 

Working alongside Heath, Rigby adopted a regenerative approach, combining natural textures with locally sourced and repurposed materials, subtle colour accents, sensory elements and abundant biophilia. The designer cocooned and partitioned the space using repurposed wood from London planes trees sourced from Fallen & Felled, who transform storm-stricken and diseased trees into hardwood timber.

At the heart of L’Estrange sits The Meadow, a special curation of natural dried blooms and grasses conceived by award-winning garden designer Lottie Delamain. The fauna was carefully chosen for its rooted connections to the fibre and flax used in apparel, with cues taken from iconic Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf’s ‘New Perennial’ movement in which compositions are crafted in symbiosis with nature – using drifts of herbaceous perennials and grasses chosen for their structures rather than aesthetics. 

The island, uniquely constructed from London planes wood with a countertop comprised of recycled plastic yoghurt pots (Smile Plastics) seamlessly houses the cash desk, creating a space that feels more fluid than transactional. Wall finishes come courtesy of Cornwall-based Clayworks’ blend of unfired clays which, when mixed with minerals and pigments, create one of the most sustainable plasters on the market. Central to the space is a large Cabinet of Curiosities, custom built into a pre-existing alcove and designed to showcase curations of brands, artists, projects and products who resonate with the brand.

Referencing Japanese design elements, forest sounds fill the open-topped changing rooms offering a spa-like ambiance; discreet wall lights cast a subtle glow. The nod to Japanese culture continues with a mirage of suspended delicate paper-inspired lampshades throughout the store, appearing almost floating. Alongside, a thoughtful selection of bespoke furniture designed by Fred Rigby and made from Fallen & Felled timber in organic, biomorphic shapes offers soft and organic silhouettes.

Enveloped in an ambient soundscape which features a captivating live audio stream from The SAFE Project, L’Estrange uses all the senses to create a truly immersive retail experience, “our hope is that our new biophilic retail model, and the store in Coal Drops Yard, can act as a catalyst to open up a new conversation around retail and enact a shift in current perspectives,” says Horne and Green. 

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