Illustrating the continuing appetite in China for retail rooted in lifestyle-oriented experiences is the opening of Beijing’s new shopping mecca, the Topwin Centre – in particular, standout store Polyphony.
Essentially a music and comic book shop/café, Polyphony – designed by Beijing-based German architects Anyscale – is aimed at curious, exploration-focused shoppers.
Music lovers can listen to a vast collection of vintage records displayed on a curved, dark-tinted glass wall, behind which hang black curtains concealing a private ‘listening studio’.
Comic book fans can lounge on iPad-equipped sofas to read Marvel Comics’ classics, resting on pegboard hooks on the large rear wall. The light and airy ambience matches the informal hangout space, and visitors can enjoy ‘sparkling coffee’, tea, yoghurt smoothies and other exclusive drinks as part of the store’s collaboration with French syrup brand Monin and coffee giant Nespresso.
Polyphony is also a performance space, hosting classical music concerts on a mobile raised stage, which are live-streamed via its own website – most recently featuring Chinese percussionist Le Yu. The stage also showcases local tech and design products (see New Glocalisation Strategies).
Yang Guobin, Polyphony’s founder, reveals the concept is intended to usurp traditional, formal luxury concepts that are beginning to fall out of favour with trendy, middle-class Chinese consumers: “The image of a super ‘high-end’ store makes people feel like there is a distance […] you want people to feel like they’re welcome. People love technology, trying new stuff – all they have is curiosity.”