ARC’TERYX has unveiled a new store in Beidahu Ski Resort, Jilin, China. ARC’TERYX is an industry leader in high-performance outdoor apparel and gears. Designed by Still Young, the design of the new store is based on the brand’s DNA to create a “spiritual” destination for snow enthusiasts. The design team departed from conventional commercial designs and used warm-toned lighting, textures and diverse spatial languages. They also concentrated on users’ natural experiences in indoor and outdoor spaces, emphasising on functionality and a vibe that fits in with the user community.
As snow falls, everything turns white. Brave adventurers would get fully equipped and take it as an opportunity to start a new journey of exploration. With the concept of “campfire in the snow,” a warm-toned building glows gently like a campfire, brightening and warming up the snowy night.
The store is envisioned as “a campfire in the snow”, which sets the tone of the spatial narratives. A large area of natural wood endows the construction with a rustic appearance and distinguishes it from the surrounding cool-toned environment. The store occupies a corner on the ground floor of a multi-story building, but appears to be separated from it through a protruding façade. Solid triangular structures, either with a strong presence or slightly visible through the translucent corrugated sheets, strengthen the symbolic image of a “campfire.” A warm, golden glow emanates from the inside to the exterior corridor and down to the floor. The store is enveloped in intimate warm lighting, making it appear crystal clear and ethereal in the snow.
Natural light moves randomly in between wooden components, scattering light and shadows onto the walls. The circular veranda is a transition between the indoor and outdoor spaces, helping block out the freezing winds and snow from the outside, meanwhile bringing in the varying natural views through a large area of French windows. The veranda, which blurs the boundary of space, separates and connects warmth and coolness, brightness and darkness, nature and the artificial.
The veranda serves functional purposes. It offers a buffer zone between the dry area and the outdoor wet snowfield to enhance the customer experience. A hanging wooden shelf is set beside the entrance for the purpose of placing snowboards to dry off. While waiting at the entry, guests might find refuge from the piercing cold winds in the corridor.
Stepping into the store, a large, eye-catching “glacier” installation comes into sight. With its crystal texture neutralising the warm spatial tone, it becomes a visual focus. The installation builds a connection between the interior space and the outdoor natural environment, while also adding a gentle, artistic touch to the store. The enclosed bar counter acts as a hub for interaction. Irregular organic lines stretch upwards to the “glacier”, revealing sophisticated craftsmanship.
The “glacier” installation is made of acrylic. The design team first carved a model with foam and repeatedly adjusted it and tested the light effect to obtain a natural, authentic form. The last step was the pouring process, which needed to minimise bubbles and voids. The finished work was transported northward from a factory in southern China to the site, where it fully integrates into the snowy setting.
The wooden grain of the exterior is continued within. Along with contrasted materials and colours, it is also characterised by clean lines and blocks, which together create an impression of order and obfuscate the boundaries of space. The friendly tone creates a welcoming environment for snow sports enthusiasts. Three-dimensional folding ceiling structures and pale-hued fabric curtains that simulate the texture of camping tents soften the light in the space and create an easeful experience like resting in a tent outdoors.
With the “glacier” installation as a boundary, the space features a smooth and clear circulation route. The area from the entrance to the foyer is a retail zone. Unlike most retail stores that seek to maximise sales per square foot, the client insisted that no more than one third of the site should be used for sales, hoping to leave more space for customers to experience the brand. Acrylic partitions refract the light, creating a soft effect. The hanging racks refer to the unique design of the brand’s factory in Canada, with their industrial metallic texture balancing the spatial tone.
The mountain skills training zone set behind the retail area is infused with a rustic atmosphere created by dark grey stones. Irregular stone textures and neat wooden lines contrast yet harmonise with one another. An enclosed communication centre is created by the hanging fireplace and mechanical pulleys taken from cable cars.
The design of the rental and storage zone centres on functionality, with full consideration given to the needs and habits of skiers. It continues the mountain-like visual effect in non-retail areas while incorporating various details to create a smooth experience at the store. Locker cabinets are equipped with casters to make it easier to move them around and add extra storage space. Washing machines and dryers are set up alongside fitting rooms and lockers to create home-like convenience for users, which is a thoughtful design beyond functional considerations.
From the campfire-like appearance to the veranda that connects the indoor and outdoor spaces, the crystal clear “glacier” installation that creates a visual focus, the training zone centring on a fireplace, and elements of tents, cable cars and rocks, the design not only brings an unconventional retail space, but also creatively echoes the brand’s values of nature exploration. With respect for nature and aspirations for the better, the design expands the boundary of wilderness and lights up a glowing campfire in a boundless land, guiding every explorer to find their “spiritual” destination.