Shoe Gallery - Vilnius (Lituania)

Footwear in an art gallery

The balance between innovation and tradition that is part of the Lithuanian national character is clearly evidenced in the Shoe Gallery in Vilnius
Maria Giulia Zunino
Leonas Garbačauskas
Plazma Architecture Studio
Year of completion

One of the most distinctive features of Lithuanian national identity is the ability to confront the challenges of the future without fear of change, to embrace new technologies and enter the global world while preserving the country’s traditions. This attitude is much in evidence in the Lithuanian pavilion at the Milan Expo. Created by the Jas firm of young architects based in Kaunas (Lithuania’s second largest city in terms of numbers of inhabitants), the architecture is itself a statement of intent, consisting of two light, eco-friendly cubes connected by a walkway and symbolising a perfect balance between innovation and history. In keeping with the theme of Well of Knowledge: Experienced Future, the pavilion showcases the country’s approach to food production based on both innovative technologies and craft traditions.
A similar mentality is evident in the design approach adopted by the team from Plazma Architecture Studio, a practice founded in the capital Vilnius in 1999. “We’re drawn to any situation that requires innovative solutions. We like to explore the character of our times while expressing our sensitivity towards our surroundings and without forgetting our roots,” they said.
The new Shoe Gallery, a large multi-brand footwear space located inside a major shopping centre, stands out for the use of a novel “glocal” design approach – in other words combining global and local characteristics.
While it is no longer surprising to see shoes displayed like jewellery on low tables (the concept has been used highly successfully by brands such as Camper and Saint Laurent), the striking thing here is the clever use of modules of various heights to create ever different compositions while adhering to an overall ideal of order and rigour that is more typical of an art gallery than a commercial space. The dynamic sensation is accentuated by the specially designed lights fitted between the horizontal lines of the shelves, in turn supported by brass geometric structures analogous to the black frames of the modules and enhanced by elegant rear panels displaying a stylish pattern of blue and white triangles.
The result is a syncopated yet lively and almost unexpected rhythm, underscored by the choice of minimal but classic-contemporary materials. Concrete, brass, mirrors and coatings all join forces to create an elegant and sophisticated urban mood. The Design Industry ceramic floor tiles in the RAW version from Ceramiche Refin – chosen for their high technical performance, environmental sustainability and aesthetic qualities inspired by the colours and texture of concrete and worn plaster – create a seamless surface brought to life by the subtle colour variations and veins that appear to extend into the concrete of the perimeter walls.

Refin, Design Industry Raw
porcelain stoneware
25x150 cm
Light Grey
Technical characteristics
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): 0,2%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): compliant
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): ≤175mm3
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): ≥ 35 N/mm2
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R9
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant
Crazing resistance (ISO 10545-11): compliant
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): compliant
Certifications and awards
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