Barbie Shanghai Store / Slade Architecture

Architect/Interior Designer: Slade Architecture
Location: Shanghai,
Client: Mattel
Architect of Record (company name): AD Incorporated (China) Ltd (Danial McCahon)
Store Concept Development and Creative Direction:BIG/ Ogilvy & Mather
Activities (Fashion Runway and Barbie Design Center Activities):Chute Gerdeman
Retail Consultant:Vertical Retail Consulting (Formerly KSA Shanghai)
Restaurant Consultant: David Laris, Founder. David Laris Creates
Graphics: BIG/ Ogilvy & Mather (façade frit pattern)
MEP Engineer (company name): Scott Wilson LTD
Structural Engineer (company name): Scott Wilson LTD
Lighting consultant (company name): Radiance Lightworks
General Contractor (company name): EDG
Furniture Fabricator: Strads Design Co, LTD
Fixtures vendor/fabricator: Kingsmen
Woodwork (company name): EDG
Façade Supplier/Installer: King Glass Engineering Co, LTD
Construction area: 2,790 sqm
Completion: 2009
Photographs: Iwan Baan

New York-based Slade Architecture has designed the first ever Barbie Flagship for Mattel. The 35,000 square foot store holds the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of Barbie dolls and licensed Barbie products, as well as a range of services and activities for Barbie fans and their families.

Mattel wanted a store where “Barbie is hero”; expressing Barbie as a global lifestyle brand by building on the brand’s historical link to fashion. Barbie Shanghai is the first fully realized expression of this broader vision. Mattel worked with BIG, the branding and design division of Ogilvy & Mather, to develop creative concept, identify project location, explore featured activities and identify creative partners.

Slade Architecture led the design including the exterior, interior, fixtures, and furnishings. Slade’s design is a sleek, fun, unapologetically feminine interpretation of Barbie: past, present, and future.

For the new façade, Slade Architecture combined references to product packaging, decorative arts, fashion and architectural iconography to create a modern identity for the store, expressing Barbie’s cutting-edge fashion sense and history.

The façade is made of two layers: molded, translucent polycarbonate interior panels and flat exterior glass panels printed with a whimsical lattice frit pattern. Slade collaborated with designers at BIG, who created the final exterior frit graphics. The two layers reinforce each other visually and interact dynamically through reflection, shadow and distortion.

Visitors are enveloped by curvaceous, pearlescent surfaces of the lobby, leading to a pink escalator tube that takes them from the bustle of the street, to the double-height main floor.

The central feature is a three-story spiral staircase enclosed by eight hundred Barbie dolls. The staircase and the dolls are the core of the store; everything literally revolves around Barbie.

The staircase links the three retail floors:

The women’s floor (women’s fashion, couture, cosmetics and accessories).

The doll floor (dolls, designer doll gallery, doll accessories, books). The Barbie Design Center, where girls design their own Barbie is on this floor. This activity was planned by Chute Gerdeman Retail and designed by Slade Architecture.

The girls floor (girls fashion, shoes and accessories). The Barbie Fashion Stage, planned and designed by Chute Gerdeman Retail, where girls take part in a real runway show, is also on this floor.

The Barbie Café, also designed by Slade Architecture, is on the top floor.

Throughout the retail areas, Slade played with the scale differences between dolls, girls and women. They reinforced the feeling of youth and the possibilities of an unapologetically girlish outlook (regardless of age) by mixing reality and fantasy and keeping play and fun at the forefront – to create a space where optimism and possibility reign supreme as expressions of core Barbie attributes.

Cite: "Barbie Shanghai Store / Slade Architecture" 04 May 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 17 Sep 2014. <>


  1. Thumb up Thumb down +3

    is it just me or would the journey up the escalator be like traveling through a giant vulva?

  2. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    undftd i was about to post the same thing so clearly we are not the only perverted ones around here

  3. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    year… perverted with barbyes! jaja …Because the building was designed thinking in that… isn’t?

  4. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    I thought the same thing. Makes me wonder if the elevator “represents” Ken in some way.

  5. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    Consistant approach of Slade Architecture to a theme of their poject. It would be interesting to hear from small girls (and/or their parents) shopping in this store. Their experience would likely be slightly different from what I read above… The store must be pretty succesful… if so – congrats!

  6. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Yup. That is totally female phallic (is there a word for that?). I’m surprised they let that happen for kids store.

    I’m just not sold on this project. Its like a weird mix between a mac store and Sanaa’s Dior Store in Tokyo.

  7. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    It´s called pussy ;) Lucas… but I think the spaces are great … it´s a great shop, simply barbie like, as you would expect it. Maybe there are too much elements that are “hip” at the moment, but hey, it´s a shop, it will be changed in two years … if I was a little girl, I would love it ;;) great job slade.

  8. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    This is certainly appealing to a certain taste. There are some design elements here that make me go ‘wow’, and plenty of other aspects that make me go ‘ick’.

  9. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Great design, consequent till the smallest detail. It is a perfect sold homework. I just hope I have never have to go in there, because I would probably get so sick already at the entrance, that after finding my way out of this pink cake I would have to listen to Marylin Manson or some death metal for two consequitive weeks to get my perception straight again. But that just shows, how effective the design is.

  10. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    The round perspex walls showing the barbies is exactly the same as Nike’s new concept store (Barcelona Passeig de Gracia for example) that features a two floor perspex cilinder with staircase inside showing all the colourfull shoes.

  11. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I wonder if there i could find the maoist Barbie i’ve ever wanted… Don’t blame for being this optimistic, who could ever thought that a high-end Barbie store could have been built there?

    So… I’ll buy some little red outfit for Ken, rifle not included.

  12. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    This english… sorry.

    1. Don’t blame me…
    2. Who could have ever thought?

  13. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    lucas, it’s not meant to be a store solely for kids. Brabie is trying to reach out to young women as well

Share your thoughts