The Pantechnicon retailer in London combines Japanese and Nordic cultures


Farrells architects have renovated a 19th-century building in the Belgravia district of London to create a shopping and dining destination that emphasizes both Japanese and Nordic handicrafts.

The Pantechnicon building was originally built as a handicraft center in 1830 before becoming a warehouse for wealthy Belgravian locals to store their excess belongings.

After five years of renovation, there are now shops, cafes, bars and restaurants, all of which in some ways reflect Japanese and Nordic cultures.

Upper picture: the exterior of Pantechnicon. Above: the white brick extension in the back of the store. Photo by Charlie Mckay

During the renovation, Farrell’s Pantechnicon expanded dramatically by adding a three-story stern extension and enlarging the basement.

Clad in glazed white bricks, the extension is tiered in shape and is punctuated by large Crittal-style windows that evoke the building’s past as a warehouse.

Pantechnicon has a warm interior made of exposed bricks. Photo by Charlie Mckay

Care was taken to preserve the grandiose facade of Pantechnicon, which has a series of towering columns. The building also retained its original name – “pan” comes from the Greek for “everyone” and “techne” loosely means “handicrafts” or “act of making”.

“Our designs have meticulously restored the building and celebrated its heritage while upgrading the interior for modern use,” said Russ Hamilton, Farrells design partner.

The Edit Shop interior of Pantechnicon in LondonThe edit on the ground floor shows products from 150 Japanese and Nordic brands

Pantechnicon’s first floor displays what is known as The Edit, a curated selection of products from Japanese or Nordic brands. These include design objects from the Tokyo-based studio Nendo, jewelry by Norweigan designer Tom Wood and shoes from the Danish label Erik Schedin.

The pieces are presented on wooden counters with small deciduous trees rising in the middle, while lantern-like lights hang directly above them.

Cafe KitsunéCafe Kitsuné was designed by DEIK. Photo by Edmund Sumner

If visitors get hungry, they can get a coffee and snacks in Pantechnicon’s in-house branch of Cafe Kitsuné, which was designed by the London studio DEIK. It’s part of a series of cafes run by Kitsuné, a Franco-Japanese music and fashion label.

When the evening falls, there is also the option of Sakaya, also from DEIK, which offers an extensive selection of whiskeys, sake and umeshu – a sweet Japanese liqueur made by soaking ume plums in alcohol and sugar.

The Pantechnicon studio shop interior in LondonThe studio on the first floor offers more retail space

Additional products will be displayed on the first floor of Pantechnicon in another retail area called The Studio. However, this level of business is meant to be more immersive overall as visitors can learn more about Japanese and Nordic culture through workshops and pop-up restaurants.

At the time of opening, there was a 20-seat restaurant called Sachi that served dishes made from typical Japanese market ingredients. A permanent rerun of Sachi will open in Pantechnicon’s basement in 2021.

Interiors of the Eldr restaurant within Pantechnicon in LondonThe Eldr restaurant is located on the second floor of Pantechnicon

On the second floor of the store is another restaurant called Eldr, or “fire” in Old Norse. The varied menu is based on the cuisine of 10 different countries in the Nordic region.

Another restaurant, managed by Finnish chef Joni Ketonen, is housed in a light-filled, greenhouse-style structure on the roof of Pantechnicon, which Farrells added during the renovation.

Interiors of the roof garden restaurant within Pantechnicon in LondonAnother restaurant is in a greenhouse-style room on the roof of Pantechnicon

Farrells has been around for over 50 years, working between offices in London, Hong Kong and Shanghai. The company’s other current projects include the creation of six interconnected skyscrapers in Shenzhen.