Seasons in the Sun

Conceived as an iconic specialty store designed around the changing seasons, Abu Dhabi’s huge Tryano store combines an eclectic product mix with formal gardens.

By Mark Faithfull

When Dubai-based Chalhoub Group launched its latest concept—the three-level, 200,000-sq.-ft. Tryano specialty store—at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Mall, the retailer wanted to create an eclectic environment with core values of “Alive,” “Entertaining,” “Specialized” and “Remarkable.”

Established in 1955, the Chalhoub Group is a leading luxury retail and franchise business and has become a major player in the beauty, fashion and gift sectors regionally, with a network of more than 650 retail stores under banners such as Tanagra, Wojooh, Katakeet and Level.

For Tryano, focusing exclusively on beauty, accessories and childrenswear, and acting as the anchor store for the mall, Chalhoub also wanted to embed its vision within the store design as a “complete sensorial experience.”

These bold ambitions have been reflected in the overarching theme of a beautiful garden, with the seasons taking center stage and used as a design narrative linking the store’s product categories with the interior store design by London-based practice HMKM.

Taking the Tryano vision as its starting point, HMKM’s response was to create what it calls a “Garden of the Imagination” that changes with the seasons—mixing nature, fantasy and technology, and taking inspiration from the grand tradition of French formal garden design.

“We like to start by crafting a big idea as a catalyst for the design work that follows,” says John Michael O’Sullivan, design team leader at HMKM. “Here, the concept was to bring the outside within the mall environment, and while we didn’t want to make this too literal, it gave us a wide breadth for the product categories, inspired by the geometrical shapes of traditional gardens.”

As a result, central avenues divide the space into a series of “parterres,” surrounded by colonnades that house a sequence of destination brand boutiques, each area inspired by nature’s changing seasons.

“We took our cues from the product categories,” adds Adam Shilton, HMKM’s associate director. “As a whole, the ground and first floor are elegant and grown up; the upper floor is designed to be exciting for children. Yet the garden theme and certain design elements provide a unifying architectural statement.”

Tryano General Manager Hamidi Kulahcioglu explains that the product mix was about focusing on certain categories “to make sure we own those categories and deliver the best offer and experience.”

At the heart of the category mix, Kulahcioglu explains, is the local family and the woman, so the aim was to create an environment for her to shop at ease, with a large variety of products available within the categories of beauty, handbags and children’s.

“It is a large store, yet it is not overwhelming and it is not flooded with product unlike many typical large stores,” Kulahcioglu says. “It is a serene, spacious environment allowing a relaxing shopping experience with clear visibility of brands and products. We have created zones featuring iconic elements, which deliver a joyful experience. It is a multipurpose space combining retail, entertainment and services.”

Materials and colors delineate product areas throughout the space. Upon entering, customers walk through a grand reception hall with autumnal-hued marble flooring and lined with timber-clad columns. Drawn toward the central atrium—a 60-ft.-high void with gently curved surfaces, flooded with natural light—customers ascend to the first floor, where they enter a beauty space inspired by winter. Shards of icy mirror and crackled glass have been attached to vertical surfaces, while metallic floor tiles and mirrored fixtures emphasize a mood of elegance.

The handbag area takes its cues from spring, with soft rugs and bespoke sculptural tiles, designed in collaboration with Giles Miller Studio. By contrast, the children’s department has vibrant summertime shades, from rainbow-colored glass butterflies to ombré-dipped cork.

Facing the mall, a multilevel geometric trellis woven from timber and steel forms the store’s interactive façade, animated with a dichroic-filmed glass and a layer of digital screens, developed in partnership with digital agency KIN, which allows the façade to blossom with virtual foliage over the course of each day. In the central atrium, meanwhile, a planted version of the same trellis structure wraps around a glazed elevator tower.

“It was great to work with a client who really wanted to bring experience to shopping,” O’Sullivan recalls. “As a new brand to its portfolio, Chalhoub was determined to create a destination space.”

Shilton adds that despite the store’s grand scale, it also was determined not to treat the space as a department store, but rather to pursue a “21st-century retail experience.” This, he says, meant that they “treated the environment as a series of boutiques, with three category killer departments.”

Indeed, the store’s formal plan is brought to life by a series of bespoke architectural elements, which punctuate the avenues and mark key moments in the customer journey. Each pavilion is inspired by a different aspect of nature, and is specifically designed to reflect a category. In the case of beauty and bags, these are defined by the notion of the 18th-century pleasure garden, while the children’s floor is conceived as a less formal, more interactive adventure garden.

In beauty, a series of pavilions denote the transitions between the department’s different moods. For example, anchoring the skincare area, arcs of stainless steel enclose the Fountain of Youth, an interactive digital “fountain” also created by KIN. As customers move around the fountain’s core, LED lights glitter and pulse to echo their movement.

Kulahcioglu confirms that there are plans to grow in the region; however, he says Chalhoub is not in a rush, with some work remaining to be done in its first store. “We aim to be the No. 1 destination in Abu Dhabi,” he says.


project file

Abu Dhabi

Chalhoub Group Pls


In-house Chalhoub



CD+M Lighting

Stepevi/De Vries (bespoke carpets), Sensitile (illuminated flooring panels)

The Planters Group

The Glasshouse (specialist stained glass finishes)

Music Concierge

KIN Design

Giles Miller Studio

Information in the project file is provided by the retailer and/or design firm.

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