designed: 2013 by ramzi makram-ebeid
With a limited space and a vast product line, Casa Carina’s owners wanted a concept store that could showcase their product range, their quality and their value for money. Casa Carina’s focuses mostly on solid wood furniture from South East Asia, as well a smaller selection of accessories. Their long-term vision, however, includes styles/sources from other countries. I therefore wanted to create a very style neutral space that would highlight their products, while also reflecting their pricing by designing on a smart budget.
From this, the concept of a “high-end storage room” came to be. By minimizing any unnecessary finishes/decorative items, the space serves merely as a backdrop to Casa’s line. To maximize space, I created a double level, comfortably allowing shorter items on the lower shelves, and taller items (including bookshelf’s) on the upper shelves (visible from the interior and exterior). Clients can walk inside and see both levels simultaneously, and if interested, can walk to the upper level for a closer look.
Though the double levels literally doubled the display space, there was still a need for more. As one of the owner’s also works in it, and as apps are becoming more common place in commercial outlets, I wanted to create a concept store for the future and take advantage of a tech-savvy client. I therefore created a central display/seating area opposite a large curtain wall where products can be displayed via the projector above. While seated in the middle, clients can upload their home pictures and see Casa’s products, actual size, integrated in their photos. Moreover, their catalogue could be displayed as well as any other photographs or videos they want to show.
Material selection here was very important, as it the most visual way to showcase a smart budget. The overall color scheme is white and silver. The white walls and displays not only help reflect light, but are also neutral. The metal sheets on the stairs and display areas are durable, inexpensive and very appropriate for the high-end storage room-feel we were going for. All built-in furniture is modern, minimal and white, blending in with the background and made with cost-effective materials. Flooring is a light mosaico, tying in the natural wood to the more sterile white surroundings. The windows were expanded and fixed (minimal frames), to bring in as much natural light as possible, while also showcasing the store from outside. Finally, the grass from the planters on the outside can be seen through-out the store, bringing in more nature to the space.
The lighting in the space focuses on 2 things: the display and functions. The display lighting for the second level comes from energy saving light bulbs above, the tube system was used to save money, while also not having to create a false ceiling and, hence, decrease the height of the space. Moreover, the light is strong and basic, again, not taking away from the products. All other lights are indirect, either from behind or below the storage areas. The second lighting is for the kitchen and office space, and uses the same exposed and indirect lighting used for the display.
The exterior of the store is minimal, and is all about the windows. Day or night the products on the upper levels are clearly visible, enticing foot traffic to come inside. The grey concrete exterior was used for the same reason the white was used inside. The signage uses one sheet of metal with the cut-out letters. It is near the main door and the sheet where the cut-outs are from, have been placed on the side.
Due to the lack of green space in Cairo, we wanted to create as much greenery as possible, while also creating a backdrop for Casa’s outdoor collections. Hence, grass was used around the center and in the planters surrounding the store. Finally, the steps outside are an homage to those inside, and can also be used for display.