Nicobar drops anchor on the eastern coast of India with its new store in Chennai
At 2,300 square feet, the Chennai store—designed by Shonan Purie Trehan of L.A.B.—is the second largest Nicobar store after Bengaluru.
It’s a sweltering 39 degrees Celsius in Chennai and a fitting day to ensconce oneself in the cool confines of the newly-opened Nicobar store located in the evocatively named neighbourhood of Thousand Lights.
In Chennai, Nicobar and its parent label Good Earth share space in a rather interesting example of co-location—the Good Earth brand, with its allusion to roots and history, is on the ground floor, while Nicobar, with its referencing of wings and geography, is on the first floor.
At 2,300 square feet, the Chennai store is the second largest Nicobar store after Bengaluru. It combines the warmth of wood, the green of foliage and shades of white and grey on the walls and ceilings, to imbue a sense of calm reminiscent of a stroll through a lush tropical paradise.
The Nicobar brand infuses a subtle design aesthetic into its products, and this is effortlessly translated into its store space under the stewardship of architect Shonan Purie Trehan of L.A.B. And to think this renovation—converting the upstairs section of the Good Earth store to fit Nicobar’s own ethos and store identity—took all of 40 days!
Much like the archipelago in the Indian Ocean that Nicobar derives its brand name and inspiration from, each section in the store is called an island. The gifting section is possibly the largest ‘island’ and the hub for community events in the store.
The Men’s Island is a space that is suffused with natural light from two windows. A wall mural of a black panther in pursuit of a zebra lends an edgy touch to the serenity of charcoal grey on the ceiling and the walls facing the windows. Kurtas, trousers and Nehru jackets with unexpected embroidered motifs and trims hang proudly from wall racks.
Signature touches of the Nicobar store design are here—the cotton rope swing, cane lanterns, dwarf pineapples that are a whimsical addition to the display on a large table with a white cross-leg under-frame. The ceiling here is a charcoal grey that camouflages the ducting and wires as well as offsets the white walls, the warmth of timber, the freshness of foliage, and the discreet gleam of the wares on display.
An external staircase flanked by potted plants takes us to what used to be the verandah of the house and is now the travel and accessories island in Nicobar. The travel section provides cues to aspects of Nicobar’s brand philosophy—it is at once tropical as it is comfortingly nostalgic.
Two rooms were merged to make one large bright space—the Womens’ Island. The flooring here is a warm wood and a departure from the terrazo (mosaic) that has been retained across the store as part of the building’s history. Summery dresses, tops and bottoms hang from a combination of freestanding displays, and racks suspended from a wooden beam. The cane lamps here have been custom-made for the Chennai store, as is the limited capsule of 35 shift dresses with Japanese-inspired Geisha doll motifs.
In the Home Island, an entire wall is occupied by a wooden display with shelves lined with Nicobar’s signature touch of cork as a backdrop to the brand’s perennial collection. Tableware in soft white and gentle sea-green celadon glaze stand out in the predominantly wood-toned room. The cork-topped table has an array of pinch pots, salad bowls and snack plates in wood and stoneware as part of a new collection.
The heart skips a beat on seeing a white bowl with a gold crack across it in a radical design inspired by the Japanese concept of Kintsukuroi where broken pottery is repaired with gold to honour flaws as part of its history.
Small, thoughtful touches personalise the consumer experience at Nicobar. A handy styling table in the Womens’ Island helps put together looks with separates drawn from the collections in season.
A gift-wrap counter doubles as a billing desk; instead of a bulky POS terminal, a set of sleek wireless tablets are placed here easily at hand and, along with a scanner, can be carried to any part of the store for billing.
A wooden display follows the curve of the wall showcasing candles, alphabet coffee mugs and a quirky range of pineapple-shaped decor pieces.
A fold-down desk equipped with postcards and envelopes reminds one of distant lands and the lost art of letter-writing.
Story as it appeared.