Partially subterranean, Kennedy Nolan’s fit-out for the Up There flagship sits tucked under the Herald and Weekly Times building along one of Melbourne’s most quintessential streets—Flinders Lane. Synonymous with design, hospitality and fashion, the location laid the bones for an innovative and engaging experience for the menswear brand.
Stepping off the laneway and down a shallow flight of three steps, Kennedy Nolan begins a curated journey through the interior. Carefully considered thresholds throughout work to “announce a paradigm shift” as one moves through, with the design team referencing “the idea of signalling to your tribe through a shared look or vibe”. The design is about “elevating the thrill of constructing a persona, finding a piece that identified you as a member of a subculture, or simply, [finding a moment] that resonates with your true self,” explains the design team.
Upon reaching the lower floor, a striking green carpet unravels, much like a green grassy field underfoot. Being a key colour for the brand, it was also a green that Kennedy Nolan found “oddly grounding”. Above head, an inky green ceiling devolves the edges “by plunging them into shadow”. Hanging from here, a sea of suspended busts accompany visitors further into the store. Greeted by two ‘temple dogs’ guarding the entry, Kennedy Nolan creates a strong visual imprint of the brands’ mascots while also translating them into functional shop-fitting devices for merchandise display.
“Elements of the store had been considered through a rich and enjoyable collaboration with a highly design-literate client,” explains the Kennedy Nolan team. This is evident from the bold colour choices, to the reflective metal surfaces. Paired with lustrous, yet sparing fabric choices across the fitting rooms and the clever use of integrated lighting throughout, the physical gestures in Up There work harmoniously to deliver an abstract space devoid of time or place.
“We began by attempting to understand the brand but also developing an insight into the culture of Up There”, explains the design team. They noted the brand has a cult following due to the “uncanny insight into its customer”—the committed Melbournian with a global outlook. According to the designers, “the store interior was to be theatrical, cinematic, abstract, curated, expansive and memorable in the sense of having a strong visual and experiential association with [the] brand.”
Organising the merchandise into discrete zones enabled Up There to curate and display stock in themes, providing scope for collaborations, events and exclusive releases. “Up There wanted to be good hosts for their customers,” shares the Kennedy Nolan team when talking about the integration of the in-house cafe. The flooring shifts from the green to a graphic black and white stripe, with long benches inviting people to come together in a more social part of the store. Oversize pink upholstered ottomans bed down large areas to accommodate those patiently waiting for their friend to make a decision, or simply providing a moment to recline.
Embracing the overall palette of unexpected, saturated colour, the after-hours glow of the programmable central table emits outwards to catch the eyes of passersby. Whether it’s heading home from a day at the office or after a meal at one of Melbourne’s finest restaurants, one will always walk past the Flinders Lane Up There store with a sense of curiosity and intrigue.
[Images courtesy of Kennedy Nolan. Photography by Sean Fennessy.]