Piccadilly Circus
Brand Strategy / Furniture Design / Retail Interiors /

Following the success of their first superstore in Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, Waterstones appointed the same award-winning design team to design what would be the biggest bookshop in Europe, with over 2 million titles displayed over seven floors, within what was formerly Simpson’s department store on Piccadilly. 

The Simpson’s building, a grade A listed, 1930’s modernist masterpiece by Joseph Emberton, with interior merchandising systems design by Bauhaus professor, Laszlo Monholy-Nagy, was a very different challenge. Unlike Sauchiehall Street, where we had not sought to change the Edwardian bookcase vernacular, our objective in Piccadilly was to develop interior furnishings and merchandising systems that were in harmony with the heritage of the building. 

This was a store with a tradition for grand display, from aircraft replicas to a building façade festooned with red roses for the Queen’s coronation; so, in addition to bookcases, tables and tills, we designed theatrical ‘sets’ on each level to depict the book genres and an elegant spiral staircase, sweeping customers from the Jermyn Street entrance to the mezzanine travel department. And to mark the store’s status as a retail destination, we designed a restaurant on the lower ground, a juice bar next to Children’s books and The Studio Lounge, a cool lounge bar on the 5th floor, with southerly views over rooftops towards the Houses of Parliament.




image of cool cocktail bar
  image of bookshop stage set
  image of childrens juice bar
  image of white spiral staircase