Various Design Teams
Walking into a Camper shoe store, one never knows what to expect. The family-run manufacturer and retailer of casual footwear, based in Majorca, Spain, and now in its third generation, has commissioned more than 20 designers to realize a startling range of concepts for its 360-odd outlets worldwide. A furry canopy of shaggy red fringe arches over the ceiling of a store in São Paulo designed by Marko Brajovic. The walls of a New York shop by Nendo's Oki Sato are covered with a grid of projecting cast resin shoes, with a few real shoes on display among them. Konstantin Grcic combines cool green glazed tile walls and hot neon signage in a Camper shop in Paris. Anything goes; there are no fixed rules.
While other retail chains maintain brand identity by applying the same design concept in every store, Camper has built its name precisely on the theme of variety and expressive freedom. Philippe Salva, the company's head of Design Communication, explains, “It's a dialogue between Camper and the designer at an equal level. The designer is our creative guest. And this diversity makes our brand image.”
The general tone of the interiors is playful—often colorful and wry. This spirit extends to designs for the firm's shoes and other products, which are developed using the same collaborative method, sometimes by the same people who design the stores. “Our products are high-quality,” Salva maintains, “but with a relaxed attitude that is very Mediterranean.”
This laid-back approach emerged in the company's first shop in Barcelona in 1981, planned by Fernando Amat with the collaboration of Oleguer Armengol and Javier Mariscal, a graphic designer known for happy Pop-Cubist cartoon imagery, like his famous Cobi mascot for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. In 2006 the company branded its holistic design approach under the name Camper Together, turning to such architects as Shigeru Ban, Gaetano Pesce, Michele de Lucchi of the Memphis Group, and Benedetta Tagliabue. Currently, Kengo Kuma is designing venues in Paris and Milan.
Another longtime collaborator, architect Ramón Úbeda, recruits up-and-coming talents such as Martí Guixé, Alfredo Häberli, Jaime Hayon, Tukujin Yoshioka, and Neri & Hu in Shanghai. The firm has even extended its collaborative concept to hospitality with two hotels, Casa Camper Barcelona and Berlin, designed by Amat and Jordi Tió, to incorporate ideas about comfort gathered in over 40 years of business travel by the firm's executives and designers.
Michel Campioni, who oversees Camper store designs worldwide, gives designers a few guidelines, based on a sales strategy that eliminates the large display windows of traditional shoe stores and generally sets the product out on tables within customers' reach. Camper develops a brief for each store with the shoes and bags to be displayed, the number of seating positions, and other parameters.
The lack of solemnity in the Camper formula is refreshing, as is its adventurous spirit. Campioni sums up this philosophy when he concludes, “Camper seeks to create a world of design and beauty through its stores. We don't want to be pretentious. There are plenty of serious things out there in the world, so we simply enjoy ourselves through design. It's something this brand allows us to do.”
Architects/Designers: Fernando Amat, Tomás Alonso, Oleguer Armengol, Shigeru Ban Architects, Studio Makkink & Bey, Marko Brajovic, Bouroullec Brothers, Campana Brothers, Juli Capella, Doshi Levien, Konstantin Grcic, Martí Guixé, Alfredo Häberli, Hayon Studio, Kengo Kuma, Isabel Lopez, Michele de Lucchi (Memphis), Javier Mariscal, Miralles/Tagliabue EMBT, Nendo, Neri & Hu Design and Research Office, Gaetano Pesce, Jordi Tió, Tokujin Yoshioka
Completion date: 1981 to present
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