This is the first beachhead of a speculative, start-up business. It occupies ‘the worst house on the best street’ – a storage cupboard at the back of a loading dock in Britomart’s glittering Atrium retail space. We needed to make for this little company a space that was human and inviting, to spend as little money as possible, and to build as fast as possible. The future business would live and die on the success of this first site.
The Atrium is a polished space of stone, chrome and glass. It is filled with glamorous international retailers like Ted Baker, M.A.C. and Jo Malone. We hoped that here we might create a small piece of grit in that oyster, and grow from this something special.
We started by removing the glass from the existing opaque shop-front. Between the bare mullions we perched four little wooden boxes. We sought to present the store as a series of tiny market stalls – somewhere you might buy a glass of lemonade from a kid at a school fair. Reclaimed timbers and copper sheets deliver organic roughness and patina; small canopies enclose an intimate space for selection and exchange; amber glass casts the whole scene in a warm, sunny tint. Collectively, these qualities define Whites & Co as a tiny island of warm, humane space.
At Whites & Co we took the smallest store in Britomart, and made it smaller. In doing so we generated a system for building humble little stores out of parts that would fit in the back of a van. One day, when it’s all grown up, we hope Whites & Co will be delivering these little wooden boxes all over the country.