Paint It Black

The creative process behind London’s latest shrine to rock royalty, The Rolling Stones
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Posted January 4, 2021

The Rolling Stones’ first flagship store, dubbed RS No. 9, is a pure celebration of art, fashion and music at the heart of London’s pop culture scene: Carnaby Street. A fitting home for such an iconic, timeless rock and roll band, the store is bold, with an impactful black façade that doesn’t compete with the wall art and bright colors of the surrounding streetscape. In the window display that wraps around the store is a sound wave sculpture depicting a verse from the famous song “Paint It Black” – a treat for diehard fans.

“Part gallery, part retail and part fan experience, this store carries curated, edited merchandise with limited edition artwork and high-profile collaborations,” explains Bess Liscio, Director of Retail Strategy at GH+A Design Studios (Montréal). The space has multigenerational appeal, “reliving, reimagining and reintroducing” the Stones to audiences from 16 to 60.

Notwithstanding the unmissable tongue, the interior is characterized by sleek lines and a minimalist approach to merchandising. “We wanted to relate the design to the legacy of both the brand and the location,” says Paola Marques, Partner at GH+A Design Studios and the project’s Creative Lead. “The glass floor we inherited from the building showcases lyrics from different songs, layered in as an illuminated graphic.”

This intentionally draws attention downstairs, where customers can find exclusive products and immersive spaces including a sound booth and a bar area for hosting events. Album artwork decorates the fitting rooms, while pops of Rolling Stones’ red interrupt the black and gray palette throughout.

“High energy is injected via a multimedia video wall inspired by the band’s most recent tour,” says Marques, “and engaging fan experiences, like the double-sided tongue as a backdrop for selfies and customization stations that allow customers to print one-of-a-kind T-shirts, are designed to provoke an emotional reaction.”

Liscio goes on to reveal: “All fixtures are movable, so the consumer path can always be changed. It’s almost like a stage.”

Much more than a simple fan merchandise store, this space offers an experience that reflects the Stones’ legacy: one that’s trendsetting, energetic and unforgettable. “Who else but the Rolling Stones could occupy that corner of Carnaby?”

Photography: Gavin Alexander/GAVSYMEDIA, London