Prime exposure: Leica Camera Pak Sha Road flagship
Leica Camera is more than a century old, a German brand steeped in history which like its peers faced something of an existential crisis with the advent of digital photography and later smartphones.
But it is enduring – thriving in fact – globally. And in February, the company opened Leica Store Hong Kong, its first flagship in the territory, a 1615sqft space on Pak Sha Road bringing together its premium cameras, coffee, lifestyle products and artworks.
Designed by renowned LAAB Architects, the Leica Camera store seamlessly merges local cultural elements and the art of photography to offer a uniquely diverse shopping experience.
Leica Camera is positioned as a high-end, premium brand best known for its quality lenses. But in recent years it has worked to build a lifestyle story behind its brand, embracing the digital age, reaching a branding collaboration with Chinese smartphone maker Huawei on its high-end handsets and developing galleries and cafes in key international cities to celebrate the art of photography.
Visitors to the Pak Sha Road flagship are greeted by impressive black fluted metal facade inspired by the markers on a camera’s zoom ring. Various details of a camera were creatively reinterpreted throughout the space, inviting visitors to “step into the complex interior of a camera” in the words of the design team.
The Cafe Leitz by the entrance also helps create a calm and refreshing atmosphere. The aroma of coffee tempting passersby inside.
Classic grey-and-white mosaic tiles help recreate the elegant Hong Kong style of the 1950s and 1960s. Black-and-white walls reflect the minimalistic style of Leica, while vintage brass lighting highlights the current Leica collection.
Leica Camera has partnered with Interval Coffee Bar created by Hong Kong-based food-and-beverage consultancy Twins Kitchen to open what is the world’s fourth Cafe Leitz, offering a relaxing environment and an immersive 360-degree experience.
Inspired by the cafes in German markets that open only during the day, the collaborative Cafe Leitz features custom-designed glass windows to create a bright, airy and cozy environment the designers hope evoke the light-filled Leica factory in Germany. Cafe Leitz’s menu includes its exclusive Espresso Lime Tonic blend, which is based on Sprite, preserved salted limes and a seasonal brew, served with Hong Kong-style snacks.
Opposite the cafe is an art gallery showing the works of international and local photographers in rotating exhibitions. For the opening, the gallery featured acclaimed local photographer Bobby Lee, a self-professed loyal fan of the Leica M series. Having established his own business in 1985, Lee has received numerous honours, including the HKMA award, and shared his experience with Leica cameras through workshops and seminars.
A selection of Chinese opera-inspired works will be displayed to match the design of the new flagship, depicting stories off the stage and heightening the viewers’ appreciation of this traditional Chinese art and the dedication of every performer.
Apart from selling Leica cameras, accessories and photography publications, the flagship serves as a flexible venue for seminars and workshops, the store’s shelves movable to create a communal space as needed.
A grand VIP suite, taking reference from the shutter speed value, will allow prestige guests to share their stories with Leica while enjoying a coffee.
This feature originally appeared in the Inside Retail Hong Kong’s magazine edition, available by subscription in digital or print versions.