Country Road, Australia

19th December 2019

In August this year, Country Road, an Australian-based lifestyle fashion retailer, launched Australia’s first fashion store to be awarded the 5-Star, Green Star Design Review Rating. 

The lifestyle brand’s flagship store in the Chadstone Shopping Centre represents the most sustainable, ethical and innovative material. Symbolising a new era of luxury, the store was designed to enhance the customer experience at every touch point, while revitalising old materials into beautiful new store features. The result is fixtures made from recycled yoghurt containers, carpet crafted from fishing nets and recycled paper wall cladding. 

Along with interior architects, HMKM London, Ambience became involved with the project through its already existing, close relationship with the Country Road Group. Dave Buchanan, Senior Design Coordinator at Ambience, told arc: “The initial brief focused on sustainability and flagship innovation. The project took approximately eighteen months from initial briefing to completion. 

“The key challenge was achieving a certified 5 Star Green Star rating while meeting budget, project timelines and implementing a creative yet functional solution for the brand. Our team of talented lighting designers overcame all challenges through collaboration with the Green Star consultant, innovation and a dedication to excellence.”

The Green Star certification is a rating system of stars and points issued by the Green Building Council of Australia, which encourages and assesses sustainable and environmentally conscious design, construction and operation of buildings. 

Approaching the rating from a lighting point of view, it was important for the Ambience team to pay close attention to the lighting comfort levels and the Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Country Road store. 

“There are standard measures like using flicker free fittings and specific settings on the Colour Rendering Index,” explained Stephen Justice, Communications Director at Ambience. 

“The back of house and store room were placed on sensors and shopfront lighting was placed on a timer. For the general illuminance and glare reduction, we specified diffusers, softening lenses and honeycomb louvres to all fittings in the nominated area, to reduce  glare. 

Applying localised lighting control to all the task areas allowed the ability to adjust the light levels in the immediate environment (counter and back of house areas) for staff members,” he continued.   

To combat the greenhouse gas emissions, the team at Ambience achieved an incredible 40% reduction to the Part J6, 2016-2019 BCA. 

“The approach to this was a lot harder than it sounds,” explained Justice. “We had to reduce the percentage of the illumination power density by specifying more efficient fittings that achieve the right light levels with less light and less power consumption.” 

Buchanan added: “The architectural documentation went through multiple iterations to perfect the brand’s vision and create a benchmark of inspiration for the retail industry. As a result, the lighting design, specification and layout was continually refined to suit the documentation. The modifications introduced regular assessments of the Green Star requirements to ensure compliance.” 

Using Ambience’s own fixtures, the team had to create a scheme that would work around the architectural features of the store. Internal artistic ceiling features include formed ceiling channels and oak curved wood timber curtains. Integrated light sources are concealed within the curtain wraps to provide subtle, dappled lighting to the oak finish. 

“The lighting design captured the essence of the brand’s commitment to sustainability and the celebrated Australian lifestyle through pioneering best industry practice, the latest luminaire technology and a considered architectural lighting approach. The garments exuded luxury through excellent colour rendition and precise aiming,” explained Buchanan. 

“The architecture, lighting and brand ethos elegantly dovetail to produce a fashion forward, iconic installation.

“Country Road Chadstone was one of the most challenging yet rewarding and educational projects. A career defining milestone for all involved.” 

Country Road Managing Director, Elle Roseby, said the relaunch of the Chadstone flagship store was a milestone for both the brand and the industry: “Our Chadstone flagship revolutionises the retail experience, maintaining our commitment to quality, while demonstrating our connection to the environment. It shows that sustainability in fashion extends into retail store fit-outs, as well as garment production.” 

Paul Digby, Creative Director from HMKM in London, commented: “Country Road is a truly Australian lifestyle brand, brought to life through a ‘Curated landscape’, where the outdoors effortlessly flows in. Natural, local materials and craft tradition are celebrated through the store design, where the environment is cherished and respected. A unique retail landscape referencing the country’s riches, putting community and sustainability at its heart. All with the aim to be Australia’s first 5-Green Star lifestyle store.”

Pic: Caitlin Mills