AVENUE & SON is a skateboard brand co-founded by four professional skaters in Shanghai in 2014. The brand’s concept “from street to avenue” carries the pursuit of freedom and individuality, typical of street culture.

Project Name: AVENUE & SON
Client: AVENUE & SON
Location: Taikoo Li Qiantan, Shanghai
Status: Completed in Dec. 2021
Design Company: Various Associates
Website: www.various-associates.com
Lead Designers: Dongzi Yang, Qianyi Lin
Design Team: Zebing Li, Yongliang Huang, Milly Qiu
Photographs: SFAP, SHAWN from A&S
Video: Lulu from A&S
Stone Supplier: Shanghai Yishehui Industrial Co., Ltd.
Construction: Shanghai Yubin Construction Engineering Co., Ltd.
Multimedia Supplier: LEOX
Skaters: Haonan Hu, Guohua Wang, PIKAI, Jeremy Hu, Xiao Yu, Wenkai Xie, Li Zu
Content team: Xiaoxiao, Donis, Taye, Wayne

Avenue & Son By Various Associates - Sheet8
©SFAP, SHAWN from A&S

Guided by skateboarding spirit, AVENUE & SON has become one of the global cultural crazes among youngsters with its street culture-rooted DNA and brand concept. In only a few years, AVENUE & SON has accumulated millions of fans and sponsored more than 20 professional skaters at home and abroad. The brand is dedicated to passing on the spirit of “fearlessness, freedom and perseverance” to the young generation.

In such a context, AVENUE & SON’s first flagship store and street structure park are opened in Taikoo Li Qiantan, Shanghai.

02 Luxury and streets

Integrating fashion, lifestyle, sports and art, Qiantan is an ideal city model zone developed by Lujiazui Group, and one of the future core areas of Shanghai. Centering on the concept of WELLNESS, the commercial complex Taikoo Li Qiantan combines longstanding luxury brands with street culture, art with fashion trends, and shows a lifestyle represented by skateboarding.

Designed by Various Associates, the first AVENUE & SON flagship store in China is sited at WOOD HOUSE in Taikoo Li Qiantan. The store is integrated with the brand’s street-structure skate park, which echoes Oriental Sports Center (“the Crown of the Sea”), both representing the most chill structures in the area. Its relationship with the Oriental Sports Center also makes this site more playful and significant.

Avenue & Son By Various Associates - Sheet9
©SFAP, SHAWN from A&S

03 The first marble skate park in the world

Skateboarding, as one of the official sports of at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, is no longer a street sport unrecognized by the mainstream. Various Associates hoped to break the stereotype that “street equals cheap”. Therefore, the team created the world’s first marble skate park to blur the traditional boundaries between street and mainstream cultures, allowing visitors to focus on the cultural and aesthetic aspects of skateboarding. Furthermore, the park also provides a creative and quality space for products derived from street culture.

In the context of current fashion trends, commercial venues are beginning to embrace the street and provide outdoor activity space for brands. Meanwhile, young consumer groups are increasingly taking skateboarding as a fashionable lifestyle. Designed by Various Associates, the street culture-rooted skateboard park in Taikoo Li Qiantan, which gathers many luxury brands, is a response to the fusion of different cultures.

04 Public-led urban commerce

In order to break the boundary between culture and commerce, the designers tried to strike a balance between luxury and street. Starting from the youth’s passion for sports culture, the team conceived a gathering place for skaters, which is both outdoors and indoors, practical and fun. This marble skate park is a realistic integration of street culture and luxury, and a significant urban public space in a commercial setting.

The street-structure park carries multiple functions for skateboarding, leisure, cafe and pop-up activities. The outdoor marble kiosk is a coffee and beverage area, and the bronze AVENUE & SON logo is inlaid into the stone by traditional craftsmanship. The classic street light that represents the brand’s street culture guides the way through the night.

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©SFAP, SHAWN from A&S

As early as 2016, AVENUE & SON, as the first representative of skateboarding culture in China, started engaging with consumers in pop-up stores, and expanding the boundary of skateboarding culture through diverse activities. 7 years later, the brand has not only attracted the attention of skaters, musicians, artists and other groups, but also has become the preferred choice for young people. On behalf of Chinese skateboarding culture, it has interacted with many brands from around the world, such as Louis Vuitton, Dior, Fred, Off-White™ and Palace, to convey new ideas.

05 Design language from outdoors to indoors

“When we asked the founders of A&S where they thought the best skate park was, their answer was ‘street’. As observing their daily activities, we found that steps, fences and even small ramps on the street were the skate tracks they loved and excelled at. Therefore, as approaching the design, we did not adopt curved slope commonly found in skate parks, but applied straight and oblique lines, which are more rigid, to interpret the elements of the street with an aesthetic language, and meanwhile to avoid the safety problems caused by curved spaces,” Various Associates explained.

The traditional metal folding door at the entrance is a reminiscence and continuation of the old streets. The delicate metal slats imprinted with the brand’s logo create a striking contrast to the contemporary architecture in the commercial complex.

The two staircases, together with a slight slope in the middle, recreate familiar scenes on the streets of Shanghai. The appropriate height makes it possible for skaters to glide on the structures, and also enables customers at the entrance to get a better view of products displayed at varied heights.

The core ramp element in the interior space originates from skaters’ daily street routes. Skaters can skate through the interior to the outdoors, which creates a special experience.

©SFAP, SHAWN from A&S

Unified ramps and spaces at indoors and outdoors, curved handrails, symmetrical upper and lower slopes, as well as tracks on the ceiling resembling road markings, are meant to integrate street elements with the brand’s DNA and spatial aesthetics, thereby producing a unique, appealing destination that is classy yet popular.

Inspired by the way that streets’ names are marked, the side part of stairs is imprinted with the brand’s logo, birthplace and time of establishment, which echoes the DNA from streets.

06 Display of product diversity

Based on the brand’s street-rooted DNA, the AVENUE & SON flagship store is a creative platform that connects with street skateboarding community. Its product design, models, LOOKBOOK shooting, video production and promotion campaigns were all contributed by skaters. Video is necessary for recording this cool sport, so the large screen displaying the brand’s creativity is the soul of the space.

Behind the screen is the clothes display area, where customers move along a circular circulation route, which ensures the visibility of all products and facilitate responsive product introduction services. The closed circulation route bypasses display stands of varied heights and forms, to separate display areas for shoes, hats, clothes and skateboards, hence realizing more efficient shopping experiences.

Other functional areas such as waiting area, storeroom and fitting room are also hidden behind the large screen. The back side of the screen is an A-shaped steel frame, which extracts the “A” letter from the brand’s name. Under the steel frame is a seat, which can also serve for temporary garment display.

The core ramp is not only a pop-up area for cross-brand collaborative activities, but also a stand for presenting skateboards and other products. It can also be used for graffiti or graphic display. This inclusive and neutral “blank” area provides flexibility for collaborative events between A&S and other brands, enabling various brands to fully showcase their attitudes.

Abundant oblique lines generate rich visual effects, and mirrored surfaces create multiple reflections which are visible by customers from various angles. Opening the hidden storeroom and fitting room doors, another mirrored world dominated by oblique lines comes into view.

Avenue & Son By Various Associates - Sheet5
©SFAP, SHAWN from A&S

07 Skaters’ night

As a leading Chinese skateboard brand, AVENUE & SON is developing a unique perspective of Chinese skateboarding culture. From street to avenue, the brand remains free and diverse, growing unrestrainedly. In addition to meeting commercial demands and fitting into the brand’s positioning, this project is more significant as a space for cultural exchanges based in a commercial complex. By creating an open and inclusive space in Taikoo Li Qiantan, it enables people of all ages to enjoy skateboarding and get to know the fun of skateboarding culture. On the other hand, the presence of the skateboard brand brings more vitality to the commercial complex. It’s available for use both in the daytime and at night. As night falls, it injects vigor and young energy into the city.


About

Various Associates is an architecture and interior design practice working regionally and internationally on research-based design projects.VA was founded in 2017 as a team of designers from an international background with professional expertise in architecture, interior design, material design, graphic and interaction design. The studio is developing ambitious high-end projects including boutique hotels, restaurants, retail spaces, workspaces and galleries. VA focuses on enhancing spaces and developing material details using bespoke approaches to give unique visual expressions to each project. VA also gives artists and designers a platform to collaborate and reimagine new ways to be creative and break down barriers between the arts.

Author

Rethinking The Future (RTF) is a Global Platform for Architecture and Design. RTF through more than 100 countries around the world provides an interactive platform of highest standard acknowledging the projects among creative and influential industry professionals.

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