Wednesday February 21st, 2024
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How Cairo-Based Morph Studio Turned This Bus Into Hadia Ghaleb’s Store

As far as Instragrammable stores go, this dreamy design can roam around the GCC.

Karim Abdullatif

In the wake of online shopping, physical stores have to seek a new dimension to their experience. It’s no longer only about the products, but about getting a feel of what the brand represents. In Dubai, Cairo-based design studio Morph + turned a bus into Hadia Ghaleb’s swimwear store, reflecting its forward-thinking ethos before driving it to Abu Dhabi.

Currently parked in front of YAS Mall, opposite to the YAS Marina Circuit, the bus was covered entirely in reflective vinyl. “We made it pop from outside to attract visitors moving from the F1 circuit to the mall,” Adham Shawki, Founder of Morph +, tells SceneHome of the dazzling effect. “It’s an element that draws people closer before being blown away by the interior.”

This isn’t the first time that Ghaleb featured her products in a bus. Previously, it was done only to host fitting rooms. But in Dubai, a fully-functioning bus was stripped down and turned into the store. “It still works,” Shawki says. “After the design was completed it moved from Dubai to Abu Dhabi and the plan is for it to roam the GCC.”

Initially, Morph + pitched a design for a retail space in a mall that had a nautical theme and featured large coral reef displays. But then plans changed from a retail space to a bus. “Hadia Ghaleb’s team chose our concept and moodboard out of a number of pitches,” Shawki recalls. “We wanted the design to contribute to her branding. Regardless of the time of the year, we wanted to attract people to her swimwear.”

Going from a retail space to a bus turned store meant that Morph + had to find a different theme. After all, they only had 25 square metres of space to work with. “We felt like the theme needed to have a dreamy and futuristic feel,” Shawki says. “We used reflections and stainless steel, coated surfaces and illuminated flooring.” 

The design injects subtle shades of pink and blue to complement the metallic finishes, from the free-standing frames that host product displays to the handles that remind visitors that they’re still in a mobile vehicle. The bus has fitting rooms, storage space, a counter and seatings along with an organic mirror that reflects Hadia Ghaleb’s logo for ‘selfie’ purposes. On that note, every inch of the bus is Instagrammable. “We custom-made every single element of the design in Egypt before flying them out to Dubai,” Shawki says.

To extend the space, Morph + added a wavy mural in the ceiling fitted with LED lighting that runs along. This is mirrored on the mosaic-covered flooring. “Together they add a visual extension to the space, making it feel larger than reality,” Shawki explains. The mosaic tiles applied on the pathway extends to the partition separating the two fitting rooms at the end of the bus.

“Mosaics used complement the vinyl in colour and visual effect,” Shawki says of the exterior cladding. Seated on one side of the bus, a mannequin embodies both the design’s and Ghaleb’s larger than life approach. “Our initial plan included dressing it in swimwear but when Ghaleb saw it she wanted it to be left as is,” he says of the polished metallic mannequin.

The mannequin and the air-conditioning units were the only features to be completed in Dubai. “We went to a luxury car polishing garage and coated them so that they’re integrated into the space,” Shawki recalls. “The design is all about visual storytelling, every element in the space interacts with the other. Our work isn’t only organising furniture and pairing colours together.” Morph is made up of two studios, Morph + focuses on interiors - whether they’re residential or commercial - and Morph on set. focuses on set and production design. “They’re both different schools of design but in the end you’re creating an experience for the director of a film or the owner of a space.”

The experience that Morph + encapsulated within Hadia Ghaleb’s bus had visitors surprised. Leaving people with question marks when they learn that it’s mobile despite all of the refitting. Outdoors, Hadia Ghaleb and Mara - a lounge and restaurant - collaborated on a pop up cafe. Morph + curated local furniture that featured tube-like curves, complementing the store, and added coloured glass tables and the same reflective vinyl cladding.

Photography Credit: Morph Studio

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