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Dynamic Coastal Displays at Zee’s Marassi Shoe Shop

With transparent bubbles, massive pebbles, and rocky pedestals, Quinto Architects displayed footwear in a shape-shifting space.

Despite online shopping redefining convenience, emphasis on concept retail design has been growing as brands acknowledge their consumers’ growing need for connection by drawing their attention to physical locations. Egyptian footwear brand, Zee, makes pointy mules, mammoth boots and swanky sneakers in captivating colourways, but it was their slogan ‘make moves’ where Quinto Architects’ founder, Amr Alim, found inspiration for their organic store in Marassi. There they displayed footwear on floating bubbles and massive pebbles in indigo, with white sand covering the floor.

“It’s always fun playing with elements throughout their branches,” Alim tells #SceneHome. “For us, the motto inspires dynamic shapes.” The Cairo-based design studio has crafted spaces related to the brand’s identity in their Arkan, Almaza Bay and Zamalek branches, and more recently, at Mall of Arabia. At the North Coast, they used lighting to accentuate delicately finished and constantly shifting curves as they continue to find inventive ways to represent the store’s ethos.

Walls at the store appear in a constant state of movement with openings organically shaping up from within. “Marassi was a continuation of our approach, but with a coastal twist,” Alim explains. “The walls aren’t still, they evoke movement with freely formed displays inspired by the patterns Zee applies on their footwear soles.”

“The reflective element on the main display was extremely challenging because we had to give it effect while maintaining its free form,” he recalls. The film used on the massive pebbles matches the brand’s identity in colour with its indigo and green. Maintaining the rocky aesthetics, a counter was made out of a real marble slab and is positioned in front of an aluminium coated curtain. “The ceiling in their Zamalek branch was all-silver, so we featured the colour here in the storage doorway. It gives water-like reflections through its folded lines and wrinkles.”

A smooth sphere was placed next to the slab to complete a composition that stands on floors covered with white sand and a layer of transparent plastic which the store requested for reasons beyond mere aesthetics. “The floor mimics a walk on the beach,” Alim adds. “It’s an experience meant to create a bond between visitors and the brand, as they walk through the space and leave their footprint.”

To supplement the design, Zee’s owner was keen on connecting with artists through in-store installations. Art curator Heba El Moaz collaborated with artists to create the transparent bubble that is suspended midair and hosts a shoe, as well as the artwork using a stone pedestal to display a pair of sneakers.

“The owner appreciates creativity and welcomes all of our suggestions,” Alim recalls. There are certain scenes that designers can’t really explain, nor should they. Like the pair of sneakers placed between two light beams that give it star wars swag. As for the foamy mirror, it was handcrafted by Alim and his sister, fellow architect Mona Alim, who both continue to display Quinto Architects’ approach and commitment towards wholesale visual concepts.