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Kingston School of Art interior design student scoops award from leading architecture firms for sustainable retail concept

Posted Monday 11 October 2021

Kingston School of Art interior design student scoops award from leading architecture firms for sustainable retail concept The student designed two conceptual, sustainable retail spaces for the skincare brand Aesop

An interior design student from Kingston School of Art has picked up an award from two leading architecture practices, in recognition of a sustainable retail concept she designed for her final project.  

The winning student, Nikoleta Ostreva, was chosen by Nigel Reading, a former Kingston School of Art architecture student and founder of Asynsis Architecture & Design. The company is currently partnered with Morrison Design Partnership, a chartered architectural practice located in Sydney, Australia which is affiliated with Morrison Design UK, in Derby. Together, the global alliance has worked on projects for well-known brands including the Eden Project, IKEA, and Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, as well as BREEAM certified projects.

The international student designed two conceptual, sustainable retail spaces, focussing her research and designs around the skincare brand Aesop. Her project comprises of a pop-up store at London Waterloo train station and a temporary pavilion in Bishopsgate Goodsyard in Shoreditch, east London. She also created a redesign of Aesop's Aromatique Candle range, proposing to extend their life cycle by making them reusable, in support of a circular economy.

Photo of the pavilion in Bishopsgate Goodsyard The pavilion in Bishopsgate Goodsyard is developed around the key spatial element - the garden.Nikoleta's designs of the two spaces use sustainable materials including newspaper wood made from outdated newspapers on the Transport or London network, natural hemp fabric, mycelium – a biodegradable material made from the vegetative part of a fungus, and bioplastic produced from food waste. The shops also aim to educate customers on sustainable practices with a station where they can refill their products and a workshop room in the pavilion where they can see the packaging for the Aesop products being made using mycelium and bioplastic.

"I came up with these two activities as a way to encourage customers to adopt less wasteful habits and provide an educational aspect to the brand experience by allowing them to learn how the products are made," Nikoleta, from Bulgaria, explained.

When customers make a purchase at the pop-up store, they take home a piece of the space in the form of packaging made from mycelium which is on display in the walls, as a way of raising awareness, Nikoleta explained. "I wanted to raise awareness by giving customers something they could take home which illustrates sustainable practices and builds a connection between them and the space beyond the initial visit," she said. "At the brand pavilion, customers also take home their purchases in mycelium packaging, this is not taken from the walls but again aims to serve as a reminder of the sustainable materials used in the space," she added.

The pavilion in Bishopsgate Goodsyard was designed to illustrate how retail spaces can positively benefit local communities by having services that address the four key pillars of sustainability – human, social, economic and environmental. "The space features a tea room to facilitate social inclusion in the community, a workshop giving locals access to knowledge on sustainable practices, a retail space to encourage growth of the local economy, and a garden that promotes urban farming and the preservation of the area's green spaces," Nikoleta explained.

Photo of Nikoleta OstrevaNikoleta graduated in interior design from Kingston School of Art this year after completing the project.The 21 year old, who takes home a cash prize of £500 from Asynsis Architecture & Design and Morrison Design UK-AUS, said she was thrilled to receive the recognition. "It's great to be recognised by Nigel who is so experienced in sustainable design – I feel like all my hard work has paid off", she said.

Her project was chosen for its representation of circular economy principles, Mr Reading explained. "Nikoleta's work best combined and represented the theory of the circular economy with the practice of regenerative, sustainable design - applied to two challenging and interesting sites," he said.

Dr Sylvia Tzvetanova Yung, head of the 3D design department at Kingston School of Art, commended Nikoleta on her achievement. "Nikoleta conducted thorough cross-disciplinary research which clearly demonstrates our role as designers in shaping the future of our planet. As a result, she was able to solve problems and provide innovative solutions to products and services that benefit not only the environment but also society," Dr Yung said.

"Her work illustrates how sustainability is embedded in everything we do as designers, from products and spaces to services and systems, which is something we emphasise at Kingston School of Art," Dr Yung added.

Other sustainable student projects presented during the Kingston School of Art Degree Show include Ellie Perry's Terracooler, a sustainable alternative to household fridges that aims to resolve modern day energy consumption and food waste, The Ocean Bucket by Callum Wardle, a set of beach toys designed for lifetime use made from 100 per cent beach waste, and Weave Cycle by Ameera Azami, a service that up-cycles old clothing into rope which is then woven into furniture.

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