Brock Carmichael has worked with C. Gars Ltd. for over six years as it expanded operations across the UK to now six locations. Its latest location is in the heart of London offering one of the World’s best selection of luxury cigars and spirits to a discerning clientele.
Situated within the Smithson’s listed Economist Building this retail unit, on the ground floor of the Bank Building in Smithson’s Plaza, suffered all the challenges a Grade II* listed building can offer. The design needed to remain sensitive to its Brutalist origins, whilst appealing to visitors, and functional, whilst being compact and multi-facetted. Additionally, the restrictions on the sale of tobacco meant most of the products could not be displayed to entice entry. The site chosen for the new retail unit, which was formerly an estate agent, had a considerable number of challenges for Brock Carmichael who were responsible for the design, planning and licensing applications, coordination and delivery to a tight timescale, during lockdown.
Alterations to 23a St James’s Street included:
• External improvements and restorations to the original features,
• The installation of chrome feature display shelving that encased the perimeter of the unit, that integrated a sales point, stock storage, ventilation and 12 personal cigar lockers,
• The creation of a glass fronted walk-in Humidor that allows for nearly 360 degrees of stunning
product displays, with climate and humidity controls,
• A new sales floor and sampling area,
• An illuminated glass feature light within the retail space and a new lighting design.
Both the humidor and the retail floor area have an impressive and very quiet smoke filtration system. This involved the addition of a very high specification HVAC ventilation system and associated ducting, concealed in perimeter boxing at a high level, with nothing visible or audible from the street.
Externally, along with the restoration work, new window displays were created, which needed to serve a dual function, display product and attract customers, but also, in accordance with SSI 2013/85, prevent any display of the tobacco products inside. This was achieved by layering displays of Spirits and Cigar accessories.
Additional internal improvements included improved access, new flooring, new lighting, new security systems and an entirely new WC and storage area design.
Tobias Bachra, the Lead Designer from Brock Carmichael responsible for the project added; “It was important for us to pay homage to Alison and Peter Smithson who designed the 1964 Economist Plaza ‘a milestone in the canon of modern architecture’. The plaza has stood the test of time and is rightly Grade
II* listed. Interior designs for 23a St James’s Street are also reminiscent of their 1956 ‘House of the Future’ for the Ideal Home Exhibition at Olympia with its curves, bold shapes and efficient use of the space available.” He added; “We all really enjoyed working on this project and as part of a team too, with the client, the contractors and engineers.”
Managing Partner at Brock Carmichael, Chis Bolland added; “We’re delighted to have now completed our fifth successful project for C. Gars Ltd. now Dominique London, they are a business we love working with. From being early pioneers in internet retail they continue to push the boundaries in luxury retail and hospitality, with innovation as standard.”
Client Mitchell Orchant, managing director of C. Gars Ltd. and CCO of Dominique London said; “Two things impress us most about Brock Carmichael, the ability for us to relax knowing they will improve on our vision and get the work done with the minimum of fuss. The second is the people. Our reputation is built on quality and they don’t let us down. For this project, most impressive were their illustrations and images and how they were brought to life exactly as we’d approved.”
Plans for the future at St James’s include cigar sampling, whisky tastings and events to add to retail which means the space has to work hard and be flexible. Other work for C. Gars by Brock Carmichael continues.