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VM choice: Saatchi Gallery shop

It must be almost guaranteed that all 1.3m visitors to the Saatchi Gallery each year walk through the museum store. Housed in the old Duke of York’s HQ building on London’s King’s Road, the store is an exciting part of the gallery experience. Every VM professional and design-and-build supplier should take a look too: this is a lovely example of what a museum store can and should be.

The store is on the first floor of the gallery, and with an entrance from the galleries at either end, it becomes an integral part of the gallery. It is designed and constructed by Design 4 Retail.

A broad main-aisle reinforces the opportunity to walk through, creating one of the busiest rooms in the gallery. A clearly signed cash desk at either end, each with matching but reversed-colour graphics, frames the space. As with many museums and bookstores, the interior is lined with wall fixtures and the floor space filled with modular island fixtures, but here the resemblance ends. This colourful space, punctuated by pillars of merchandise and filled with interesting, visual culture at varying heights is as, or even more, interesting than other fascinating gallery spaces in the building.

Like the wall units, the mobile island fixtures are totally flexible, with open-fronted storage space for immediate replenishment of mindfully-displayed, colourful merchandise. Head of retail Paul Foster says that one of the criteria for the store space was that it could be completely packed up and temporarily stored if necessary. Fortunately, given the effort involved, this happens but rarely.

An oblique slice of the white floor is covered in grey carpet. This creates a premium-display section allowing space for a sofa and stools. It creates a quieter browsing section away from the impulse-purchase postcards (part of the merchandise offer, although Saatchi permits photography within the gallery and even within the store).

At this slightly quieter end of the store is a second cash desk, ensuring the store is evenly staffed. With colourful, framed, limited-edition prints on the walls, displayed gallery-style, the store purchasing policy encourages the inclusion of stimulating, engaging, and bold choices. It does not shy away from including fun, almost kitsch items, with a merchandise range between £100 and £1,500.

The steel, vertical wall supports are fixed but the inserts - such as the one framing this Tom Dixon poster - the shelves and the wheeled cabinets below them can all be moved. The difference in price points is gently indicated by the use of steel in the premium area, in contrast to the white-finished fixtures in the remainder of the store.

Future needs are met too. Foster explains that a key part of the brief was to be able to reorder additional fixtures without long lead times or excessive expense. The care with which this store has been created extends to every small detail. For example part of the VM ethos of the store is to display books face-up or face-out, where possible, ensuring their colourful covers are showcased.

On the carpeted section, darker fixtures underline the change in price points, with glass-topped cabinets adding further changes of level and preventing accidental damage.

This is exactly what a museum store should be: being bold and distinctive pays.