Christian Biecher

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 August, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 August, 2005, 12:00am

Who? He is the 41-year-old French architect behind Hong Kong's Harvey Nichols shop, set to open in September.

What look has he aimed for? He tried to avoid the neutrality of regular retail architecture and instead found inspiration in images of English gardens, the Sex Pistols, psychedelic prints, pop colours and Liberty flowers. The atmosphere is more like a home than a shop - a private rather than public space. The floors are covered in gilt-peppered stone and the walls and ceilings in plain white plaster. The fixtures and furniture are simple, with metal finishes and top-quality leather. The decoration includes silk-screened laminate panels.

What's the layout? The ground and first floors house cosmetics and fragrances. The second floor covers accessories and jewellery. The third floor is devoted to women's wear and shoes. Honeycomb-shaped shelves made of coloured glass panels and mesh 'bring depth and translucence for a contemporary and feminine atmosphere', he says. The fourth floor has a 'pop and playful' decor and houses women's sportswear, children's wear, menswear and the Fourth Floor Restaurant & Bar.

Does Biecher have formal training? Yes. In 1988, he earned a master's degree in architecture from the L'Ecole d'Architecture de Paris, studying with one of his mentors, Henri Ciriani.

What's Biecher's story? Born in Strasbourg, he was the product of two literature professors. In art class at school, instead of drawing traditional landscapes, he gave a bird's-eye view. 'I could always feel at the same time the fear and the interest of my teachers,' he says. After university, he worked as a designer for Bernard Tschumi Architects until 1992. While at Tschumi, Biecher taught graduate seminars at Columbia University's School of Architecture in New York. The experience gave him the skills and confidence to open his own agency in Paris in 1992. Biecher went on to work throughout Europe and Asia.

What is he best known for? His design of the Parisian restaurant Korova, the Rue Saint-Honore Joseph store, Issey Miyake's Tokyo headquarters, and his Pantone backpack.

Who is his greatest influence? Felix Gonzalez-Torres, the Cuban-born American conceptual artist with an obliquely progressive bent. 'He was doing very political things with objects from everyday life: piles of printed paper, wrapped blue candies in a room that was amazingly strongly lit and it was like the candies were on fire.' Biecher is also a sucker for experimental videos: 'I like the way the colours are distorted - the sort of translucence that you can get from these.'