A Touch of Glass

Company: John Lewis Partnership
Sector: Retail
Impact: Corporate identity; Corporate responsibility; Innovation
Sponsor: Architectural Design Manager
Timescale: 3 years from concept to store opening

Project brief

In 2005 John Lewis appointed architects to design and build a flagship store in Leicester city centre as part of a major development project to regenerate the city centre. The design brief was to create a unique and dramatic frontage for the new store reflecting the identity of the city of Leicester, which has a long and significant heritage in the design and production of textiles.

Our customers will literally be amazed at the modern, progressive but distinct retailer that’s landed in their city.
Andy Street, Managing Director 2008
… the greatest thing for me ... is realising just how much a catalyst for change John Lewis has been in the city.
Samantha Rowntree, Manager of Retail Projects 2008

Business archives used by the team

  • Original drawing of a textile design, 1803 (from the John Lewis textile archive)

Outcomes and business benefit

  • The textile motif is a huge public relations asset. Customers have learned through local press and in-store about the archival inspiration behind the design.
  • The adaptation of the original textile design and its reproduction on the glass cladding of the building communicates an innovative, distinctive and modern company identity.
  • There was no cost associated with using in-house IP from the company archives as inspiration for the final design.
  • The facade design reflects an aspect of local community history, as Leicester has long been associated with textiles, which helps bind the store to its locality.