Design for the knitwear department of the 'Jenefer' fashion  shop, Poultry, London

Through the Shop Window

Images of British shops and shopping from the RIBA Collections

In the spring of 2015, the Through the Shop Window exhibition featured at Shanghai Fashion Week as fashion and architecture met again, when RIBA architects took over the retail windows in Shanghai’s most famous shopping plaza, Xintiandi Style, and showcased their talents as part of the RIBA Shanghai Windows Project 2015.

Shopping, regarded by many as the nation’s favourite pastime is driven by our desire for ever new, constantly changing fashions and goods. In turn the demands of our shopping habits has led to the rapidly, ever changing architecture and design of shops. By their very nature shop designs and displays tend to be very ephemeral, quickly consigned to history and only recorded for posterity by the photographer’s camera or the architect’s pen.

Through the Shop Window captures the evolution of British shopping trends in the middle of the twentieth century beginning with the stylish glamour of Art Deco, its glitz and chrome a luxurious antidote to the harsh times of the Depression. After the Second World War’s austerity came Modernism, far simpler, yet often extremely elegant with large picture windows rendering the shop fronts almost transparent, their interiors revealed to all. Witness how many of the photographs displayed here were photographed at night emphasizing their theatricality and tempting you to enter. Then finally the vitality of the “Swinging Sixties” with that coolest destination of all, London’s Carnaby Street.

39 items
RIBA2561-10Black & White Milk Bar, Gray's Inn Road, London, at night

RIBA2655-15Habitat shop at night, Fulham Road, London

RIBA3354-53Wayang Coffee Lounge, 207 Earl's Court Road, London, by night

RIBA4982Habitat crockery and household wares

RIBA7755Max Factor salon and make-up studio, 28 Old Bond Street, London: window display

RIBA8587Jaeger shop, Victoria Street, London, by night

RIBA11098Jaeger shop, Manchester: wool department

RIBA11102Bally Shoe Shop, Regent Street, London: window display

RIBA11626Austin Reed Ltd., 103-113 Regent Street, London: the red lacquer room

RIBA11628Austin Reed, 103-113 Regent Street, London: the barber's saloon

RIBA14536Selecting fabrics at Heal's, Tottenham Court Road, London

RIBA15336Carnaby Street, London

RIBA15337Carnaby Street, London

RIBA15368Electrical shop

RIBA15369Pram parked outside a supermarket

RIBA17079Electricity Showrooms, Cannon Street, City of London

RIBA17160Russell & Bromley shoe shop, Ealing, London, by night

RIBA17201The Norbury Hotel off licence and delicatessen, London Road, Norbury, London

RIBA17831A mural on the corner of Ganton Street and Carnaby Street, London

RIBA17833Badges on sale in Carnaby Street, London

RIBA19015Cresta Silks dress shop, Brompton Road, London

RIBA20627Design for a shoe shop on the corner of Edgware Road and Harrowby Street, London

RIBA24930Jaeger shop, Brompton Road, Chelsea, London: close-up of the shop windows framed in Portland stone mouldings

RIBA24934Bally Shoe Company shop, 30 Old Bond Street, London, by night

RIBA25386Gay Kaye Ltd handbag shop, 4 New Bond Street, London

RIBA25388James Lock & Company, 6 St James's Street, London

RIBA25389Old England showroom, Regent Street, London, by night

RIBA25415Keddies Department Store, Southend-on-Sea, Essex: escalator to first floor

RIBA25429John Lewis temporary shop, Oxford Street, London: the Holles Street corner

RIBA25434Window display for Accessories, Regent Street, London: the Students Display Competion entry by students of Guildford School of Art

RIBA25438Leisure Kitchen Equipment, Regent Street, London

RIBA29362Design for a temporary shop window display to promote the Festival of Britain, for the Travel Association

RIBA31201Design for the knitwear department of the 'Jenefer' fashion shop, Poultry, London: the scheme includes counters, display cabinets, fittings and fixtures featuring brightly coloured panels

RIBA31202Design for the entrance area of the 'Jenefer' fashion shop, Poultry, London: a shop assistant and customer are shown at the counter and clothing can be seen displayed on mannequins in the background

RIBA33815Hairdresser's shop window displaying wigs, toupees and hairpieces, London

RIBA34939Selecting fabrics at Heal's, Tottenham Court Road, London

RIBA55248Relaxing by the summerhouse on the roof garden of Derry and Toms department store, Kensington High Street, London

RIBA74775Freeman Hardy & Willis shoe shop, Catford, London: the shop entrance at night

RIBA88799Advertising hoardings, corner of Shaftesbury Avenue and Piccadilly Circus, London