Kuwaiti Royalty Taps Rem Koolhaas to Design a Translucent Luxury Megastore

Kuwaiti Royalty Taps Rem Koolhaas to Design a Translucent Luxury Megastore
A rendering of Exhibition Hall
(Courtesy OMA)

OMA is no stranger to luxury retail, having worked with the likes of Prada and G-Star to construct everything from boutiques, to headquarters, to Fashion Week runways. It’s fitting, then, that Sheikh Majed Al-Sabah of Kuwait would tap the Rem Koolhaas-helmed firm to design his latest high-end megastore.

Ten years after erecting Kuwait’s Villa Moda emporium, the 100,000 square-foot retail destination that helped establish the region’s station in the fashion world, Al-Sabah is planning the 86,000-square-foot Exhibition Hall, scheduled to open in 2014 inside Kuwait City’s 360° Mall. Like the glass cube that is Villa Moda, the new department store will consist of transparent facades, punctuated by circular cutouts to let in natural light. Unlike the average high-end mall, however, its design and programming will pay homage to its surroundings: Corridor-shaped shops reflect “the geometry of the Middle East,” WWD reported, with a special push towards spotlighting homegrown talents.

“We want to introduce the future Elie Saabs and Zuhair Murads,” Al-Sabah told the fashion industry paper. It’s a timely decision, in light of the Arab Spring uprisings. As a result of the region’s tumultuous political climate, there has been increased interest among denizens in local art and, consequently, local leisure activities as security concerns in cities like Beirut and Cairo have kept would-be travelers grounded.

For those who find Kuwait too far and 2014 even farther, there’s a more immediate dose of the OMA retail experience availably nearby. In Soho, there’s the OMA-designed Prada boutique (of which Peter Marino, the king of luxury retail architecture, voiced his disapproval in the fall fashion issue of New York magazine). And on September 21, OMA unveils its Coach shop-in-a-shop on the ground floor of Macy’s Herald Square flagship store. The glass-and-acrylic facades are worth an ogle, even if you’re not currently in a position to buy.