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Gallery Shop

Akin Atelier designs Gallery Shop for Art Gallery of NSW new Sydney Modern building with first-of-its-kind bio-resin installation created in collaboration with Hayden Cox.

Located in the Entrance Pavilion of the Art Gallery of New South Wales’s new Sydney Modern building, the Gallery Shop is an immersive first-of-its-kind large-scale resin installation, achieved through collaboration with Hayden Cox, shaping a luminous space of shifting perspectives and refractions of light.

Opened in December 2022, the new building, designed by Pritzker Prize–winning architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA, is the centrepiece of the Art Gallery’s Sydney Modern Project expansion. It is the most significant cultural development to open in the city since the Sydney Opera House nearly half a century ago.

Fluid contours of bio-resin, a custom formulation written specifically by Hayden Cox for the project, wraps the shop’s perimeter to form a transparent margin that serves as both boundary and display.

The bubble captures natural light throughout the day bringing dynamic reflections and refractions of the city while holding people, objects, and books within its centre. A pair of ‘windows’ in the perimeter form sit on a singular axis, allowing a direct line of sight from the Domain, across the volume of the shop and into the Entrance Pavilion that creates a frame for artworks, including the exuberant floral sculpture by Yayoi Kusama, Flowers that Bloom in the Cosmos, on the external terrace.

“At first glance, this work makes a bold and simple statement. Its purpose is defined, and its identity is definite. But with further investigation and understanding, you see its complexity and that it is in harmony with its natural, architectural, and artistic context.” - Kelvin Ho, Principal, Akin Atelier.

Akin Atelier worked with  Hayden Cox over two years in an experimental and collaborative design development and research process to achieve the complex, large-format application of bio-resin, pushing shape and volume beyond the normal parameters to best harness light and colour. With resin being a key material traditional to surfboard manufacturing, the unique collaboration drew on experience and learnings from Cox’s previous large-scale resin and design work applied to interior architecture. 

“I think the experimental nature of what we’ve created has been a huge motivation for all involved. It’s not a tried and tested concept, but more a hybrid of design, architecture, innovation, and art. Drawing on 25 years of working with resin across various disciplines, being able to truly push the application of this materiality at this scale and level was an intriguing design challenge and a privilege to realise collaboratively with the team at Akin Atelier and the Art Gallery of NSW.” - Hayden Cox.

Akin Atelier’s choice of resin as the primary material for the Gallery Shop speaks directly to the transparency of SANAA’s building design in the public spaces. Resin was selected for its texture, dimension, and ability to respond to the shifting daylight. The handmade craft of this material allowed for experimentation across colour and form. 

The appetite for experimentation in form and materiality has resulted in the realisation of an unprecedented application of resin to reflect, experience and observe. The 'Gallery Shop' was the 2023 recipient for 'Retail Design' at The Australian Interior Design Awards and Architecture NSW Awards.