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CHINA. China Duty Free Group (CDFG) and The Design Solution have previewed their jointly developed designs for the airside commercial area at the new Tianfu International Airport in Chengdu.

This follows CDFG’s success in winning the contract to operate 4,000sq m of retail space. The airport is due to open in mid-2021, ready for the International University Sports Federation (FISU) Chengdu 2021 Summer World University Games in August.

The design scheme reflects Chengdu’s significance throughout history. It is inspired by the cultural heritage and evocative era of the Silk Road that first connected Southwest China with the rest of the world, introducing trade in fine goods including tea, gunpowder, silk and paper.

The curation aims to immerse and engage passengers with a sense of Chengdu and the Sichuan province, said the partners. A key design inspiration in the scheme is the flowing movement and organic nature of silk, featured throughout the stores, to express the movement of the traders on the route itself.

The stunning natural beauty of the region is introduced with delicate cherry blossom influences and bamboo forms represented in authentic furnishings, fret cut metal and other design details throughout the space.

Elegant environments: Impressions of the airside commercial zone that will greet travellers at Tianfu International (Images courtesy of The Design Solution and CDFG)

The Design Solution has worked on every aspect of the design implementation of the new-build space. Each element has been sourced using local materials and built from scratch. Yuming Zhang, The Design Solution’s representative in China, has led the collaboration with the local design institute to realise the design intent during construction and fit-out.

The cosmetics & fragrances area reflects the natural beauty of the Sichuan region

A confectionery concept, Chocolab, will offer a range of sweet temptations

The scheme comprises a central commercial area experienced by all passengers as they clear security and transit, with three piers leading off to the gates. This features two walk-through duty free stores with open store frontage encouraging passengers to enter and explore. The interior features a distinct expression for each category, creating a multi-layered shopper experience, said CDFG and The Design Solution.

The perfume & cosmetics area reflects the natural beauty of the Sichuan region, inspired by nature’s colour palette, organic forms of the scenic mountainous landscape and hillside rice paddies and lush bamboo forest.

The liquor & tobacco category is split into two defined zones. International brands are presented in a design fusion of ‘East meets West’, celebrating the vibrancy of Chengdu city night-life. The lighting effect is inspired by the Anshun Bridge with gold rippled reflective metal and halo illumination. The in-store bar experience features two distinct ‘rooms’ – hot for dark spirits and cold for white spirits – anchored with a tasting bar for the resident elite mixologist.

This contrasts with the zone for local and traditional Chinese brands where the look and feel is inspired by the juxtaposition of local parks, gardens and traditional red painted tea-houses intertwined with the metropolis of Chengdu. Architectural planters provide a nod to the environmental protection at the heart of local urban renewal.

CDFG aims to deliver enhanced personal services for invited guests at the VIP lounge 

A special feature is the China Duty Free VIP lounge for invited guests. The space is designed to enable brand personalisation take-overs with space for tutored tastings of premium wines and spirits.

Inspired by the Chinese symbol for wealth and prosperity, the Golden Dragon, the luxury and contemporary fashion and watches, jewellery and sunglasses areas encompass a mix of multi-brand duplex stores and shop-in-shop boutiques. These feature polished marble flooring, enclosed by porcelain tiles with a dragon’s scale motif uplit by a wash of light. Polished golden ribbon at ceiling height leads shoppers into the depths of the stores.

‘East meets West’: Cultural themes intertwined in the liquor & tobacco zone

Chocolab is a new bespoke confectionery concept “where fun, entertainment and education combine playfully to spotlight the making of chocolate as a magical laboratory concept”, said the partners.

The electronic experience centre invites exploration with gamefication as an engagement strategy and product merchandised on play tables to enable trial before purchase.

The Design Solution Director Nick Taylor said: “This design scheme has been a unique and fascinating challenge – bringing to life China Duty Free Group’s vision to distil the essence of Chengdu and the province of Sichuan, both culturally and physically, as an authentic expression of its DNA.

“Working on a fast-paced project delivered from start to finish during the pandemic, our team in London has had to manage all aspects remotely working in close conjunction with China Duty Free in Beijing.  We have achieved an incredibly speedy turnaround thanks to the support of Yuming Zhang, our representative in China, acting as a valuable conduit with the local design institute and the airport.”

How the key commercial zones sit within the layout of the airside arena

The first phase of the airport construction is expected to serve 60 million passengers by 2025 with two terminals and three runways. When fully completed the airport will have six runways and four terminals and capacity for 90 million passengers and is expected to become Southwest China’s major international air hub, making Chengdu the third Chinese city to have two international airports, after Beijing and Shanghai.