Atelier [email protected] Designs Uncommon Store in South Korea
A concept project for one of the biggest retail revolutions of pandemic life—socially distanced shopping—South Korea’s Uncommon Store was designed and completed in just three months by Atelier [email protected]. Inside the new Hyundai Seoul department store by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, the unmanned boutique is part of convenience-store chain Nice Weather and geared toward the nation’s digitally savvy youth who intuitively use smartphone technology as both tool and expression.
Bands of peach and white acrylic, illuminated via integral LEDs, wrap the exterior and interior of the 360-square-foot shop. A tribute to what [email protected] director Kyungsik Park calls “1960s theater design,” the stripes display graphics promoting the store’s cash- and card-free technology. The retro vibe continues underfoot with diagonally oriented ceramic floor tile and overhead with reflective plastic paneling the 16-foot ceiling.
After downloading the app, which uses cloud and machine-learning systems developed by Amazon for its brick-and-mortar Go shops, Uncommon Store customers scan a QR code to enter the turnstile gates. Inside, food, drinks, and specialty items such as cameras and skin-care products are displayed across a single 50-foot-long wall fronted by sleek shelving in acrylic and stainless steel, akin to a sort of futuristic Automat. Concealing nearly a mile of cables and fitted with some 200 weight sensors, the shelving system flags when a shopper removes an item. Then, no fewer than 50 ceiling-mounted cameras apply face-recognition software to access the customer’s digital payment, sending almost instant confirmation
notifications to their phone. “The store,” Park explains, “is actually one singular computer.”