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Dover Street Market: Beautiful Chaos

Visitors to London’s Haymarket will be struck by the arresting façade and calm white window displays of Dover Street Market, a building and concept that embraces new young design, even as it pays homage to London’s architectural past. Rei Kawakubo of Commes Des Garçons conceived and designed the store in its former home in Dover Street and now in its latest incarnation on Haymarket.

Kawakubo states: ‘I want to create a kind of market where various creators from various fields gather together and encounter each other in an ongoing atmosphere of beautiful chaos, the mixing up and coming together of different kindred souls who all share a strong personal voice.’

18 – 22 Haymarket was first built by Thomas Burberry in 1912 and is a Grade II listed building of five floors, hence the unaltered exterior. Inside, in keeping with Kawakubo’s vision, the original windows, ceilings and central staircase remain unaltered.


The staircase connects to all floors and links to each one with a particular theme. The second floor boasts a metal dinosaur designed by Kawakubo, for example. The huts, till points and the changing rooms are all designed by Kawakubo, creating a harmonious ambience. There are no false ceilings or down lighting; instead Kawakubo designed ‘Frozen Waterfall’ chandeliers, clustered illuminations around the cross-beams on the first floor. There are other lighting installations within the Market on the basement, ground floor and second floor. The ground floor is lit by Daniel Young and Christian Giroux’s ‘Alexithymia’.

Each of the five floors of the market has a different audio configuration, combining eclectic music with textural sounds, evoking that sense of ‘beautiful chaos’.

Commes des Garçons has a strong presence in the Market, particularly on the third floor, alongside brands Sara Lanzi (‘Black Space’), Egg (created by Jonathon Tuckey) and Casey Casey, Sofia D’Hoore, Bonne Maison (all in Radiator Space), and Labour And Wait (special homeware items in black). This floor also houses Rose Bakery, an Anglo-French Café that creates a homely space where diners will become regulars.


The second floor houses Loewe (mirror, plexi and cellophane-wrapped concrete), The Row (a vintage double wardrobe), Gucci and Michael Costiff World Archive (treasures from around the world) amongst many others.


The first floor hosts spaces and places designed by the likes of JJS Lee, Chrostopher Kane (White Pillar Space), Celine, JW Anderson (a children’s playground) and Rick Owens.


The Ground floor is composed of innovative spaces designed by Junya Watanabe (wood panels), Black Commes Des Garçons and Commes des Garçons’ Beatles (a vintage cabinet housing a collection of records by the Fab Four), Simone Rocha (clashing textures) and Emma Hawkins’ taxidermy (from the original Dover Street location).


The Basement boasts Paul Smith (it resembles their first ever shop), DSM Sneaker Space, Palace skateboards (Italian marble), and T-shirt Space (a green cage filled with brands including Sayhello, Braindead, and Fucking Awesome).

It’s a fascinating and eclectic mix, sympathetically and lovingly reimagined, and right in the heart of London. It’s as much a space to be visited and admired for its boldness of vision as it is an outlet for the very best in London-centred design. It’s a truly beautiful, chaotic, London experience.

Dover Street Market
18-22 Haymarket

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