Neutrale Taps HONEXT® to Breathe New Life into its Retail Store
Neutrale co-founder Nacho Aragón and Ricardo Fernández of estudio DIIR discuss why the young architecture firm turned to HONEXT® to help this sustainable lifestyle brand renovate its flagship store in downtown Madrid.
What is Neutrale?
Neutrale was created by three partners and friends in Madrid, Spain, and manufactures sustainable and timeless garments. We do not work with collections, nor do we make discounts.
Our main objective is to develop quality products that are unisex and have an atemporal value, with the product as the absolute protagonist. We don’t do our branding through our logo or brand image. Our product is what the brand represents and what makes it come to life.
What was the project all about? How did you use HONEXT®?
We wanted to revive our charming old store location in downtown Madrid. To do so, we teamed up with estudio DIIR to imbue the store with our brand’s essence while respecting the original structure of the space.
We used raw, untreated HONEXT® panels as cladding in the main room of the space to mark the line defined by the granite basement on the façade. The panels unify this first room and the reception space of the premises and give them a welcoming feel that serves as a letter of introduction to the brand.
Why did you choose HONEXT® for this project?
We were looking for materials that would allow us to translate everything that Neutrale represents into architecture. HONEXT® was simply a perfect match for the brand’s values and ongoing projects.
We share the vision of rethinking waste as an untapped resource, of building circular products that can be endlessly recycled. Just recently, Neutrale launched a line of clothing made of organic, reused fabric that our customers will be able to bring back to us so that we can create a new batch of clothes with a process we have developed. HONEXT® does it with its boards, we do it with clothing.
Why did you decide to display HONEXT® raw?
As I mentioned earlier, to us at Neutrale, the product, not the branding, is the protagonist. For example, one of our products is a regular sweatshirt, but what we do is that we have turned the fleece around and, instead of having the fleece on the inside, we have it on the outside. The idea is to embrace those imperfections that a product or material has and that make it beautiful, to make the imperfect perfect and seek the harmony in it all.
We wanted to take the same approach when refurbishing our store, so we opted for highlighting the unique surface pattern that the untreated HONEXT® panels offer. The store’s lighting brings to life the imperfections of the material in a beautiful and organic way. The manufacturing process of the material is so natural that the different watermarks and lighting effects generate different environments almost within each panel.
What feedback have you gotten from customers visiting the renovated store?
People see how much the store has changed and are positively impressed. And the beauty of using a material like HONEXT® is that there is a story behind it, there is a why. And you can tell people about it.
You can tell them what HONEXT® is made of and the process behind the material’s development. You can tell them how it helps create a little space that represents our brand very well. People enjoy the story behind the panels and the atmosphere they create. They generate a sense of calm in the whole space, helping you feel at home.
How was working with the material and the HONEXT® team?
From an architectural perspective, it is always interesting to discover and start using a new material. It is very enriching, and you are introducing a new element into your studio’s palette of materials. Something that can also be challenging; you are getting to know a new material, you don’t really know how it behaves.
But the HONEXT® team is very easy to work with and is always there to help. They first came to the studio to properly present the material, and then they guided us through the material’s processing to ensure we achieved the results that we wanted.
How do you see HONEXT® being used in the future?
The material has a lot of potential and a long journey ahead in terms of research and applications. For example, right now it can only be used as a coating for interiors, but we think it would be very interesting if it could begin to be used at the structural level in some buildings. There are other examples of sustainable materials such as cardboard that have been used to make building structures. We think HONEXT® panels have the potential to one day replace what we know today as MDF, a material that is widely used in construction but that also pollutes way more than HONEXT®.