Marinating in Assos: designing the Assos Boutique in London

With projects ranging from spaces at the Tate Modern and the Science Museum to offices for Price Waterhouse Coopers and Pizza Express restaurants, Ab Rogers Design was commissioned by Assos to design the Swiss brand’s new concept store on Regent Street, Central London. 


Unveiled on November 17, the result is a long way from your typical bike shop. Ab Rogers, chief architect at the studio, explains how he and his team designed their very first project in the world of cycling.


Rouleur: What brief did Assos give you for this space?
Ab Rogers: Assos wanted us to create a brand ambassador in London; to translate their atelier they have in Lugano and bring it all together into one manifestation within a London space.


The architectural envelope we have is quite spectacular, on Regent Street with a mezzanine level and high ceilings, and I think Assos really believe their customers should be marinated in Assos and the incredible craft that is behind all that they do.


Where did you go to look for your design cues?
We’ve really tried to bring the emotion of cycling into the store through both the scale of the shop fit and the scale of graphics that are included. On arriving you see four-metre high fibre glass loops that represent the revolution of the wheel, with graphics of the different types of outfit on display beneath the loops.


You end up in the ellipse, which is the basis of the Assos identity. There you try on the clothes, but it’s like being in a wine cellar; you are surrounded by the product and you can try it on. It’s about the Assos brand; everything is black and white, everything is redacted, everything is very powerful and dynamic.


This is somewhat at odds with your tendency to use colour in your work…
Exactly. Colour is one of the tools that we use and that our competitors don’t. The colour in this project comes in through the graphics and the imagery used. There is quite a lot of colour in the product.


It’s like being in a wine cellar


What was your creative inspiration for the store?
The biggest inspiration was the brand itself and the meticulous detail that goes into designing the clothing. Secondly it was the bicycle, and in particular the Assos bike from 1976.


It’s incredibly reductive, it’s the first carbon fibre bicycle and the tubes are assembled like old fashioned steel tubes. It’s the confidence of those reduced moves that are so exciting for us. That’s very much where we came to on the design.


How does this compare to other projects?
I think whatever we design we really try to focus on the DNA of the product, the soul of it, and to try to create a system to celebrate it and to marinate in it, and that’s what we’ve done here.


The tools here are black and white, hard materials and vibrant graphics and that’s not our normal box at all. But every project is different – we’re designing the Royal Academy Museum shop and nothing could be more different from Assos from a brand perspective.

Ab Rogers bringing colour to the Assos Boutique

As a designer, what do you make of other cycle shops?
I’m always dismayed at the complete lack of design that goes into bike shops. There are some cycle shops that are more design conscious but in a way they’re still anti-design; they’re more about creating notions of the brand rather than using design to improve the experience.


You don’t need design to sell wine. But if you go into Hedonism [in Mayfair] you see what design can do for selling wine. In bike shops there’s a notion of the warehouse – and that having the bikes is enough – but we as designers think you can make the experience more embellished and more powerful and get a greater experience of the brand through using high design.


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