Combining Aesthetics with Experience
With each New Year that arrives, new customer trends emerge and new expectations come to light across the retail industry. As such, designers and shopfitters around the world continue to innovate with their displays and unique layouts to draw in ever-expectant shoppers. Over the next few pages RLI takes a look at a stand-out selection of international projects that highlight these new trends that push the boundaries and offer customers new experiences.
Shopfitting is not a common and familiar term to regular consumers and may only be used by people who work in a specialised field within the broader retail industry such as shopfitters, architects, designers, project managers and retailers. However, it’s one of the key elements in retail design. It involves designing, building and installing fixtures, fittings and other interior elements of retail spaces, such as stores, boutiques and shopping malls. This is the viewpoint on the topic from Greatergroup in their article ‘Revamp Your Retail Space: 5 Shopfitting Trends That Will Make Your Store Stand Out’.
In today’s competitive retail landscape, enticing customers requires more than just great products; it demands an enchanting physical space. Shopfitting aesthetics are essential for crafting these alluring environments that draw in and retain customers. It’s about turning a simple shopping trip into a memorable experience, highlights a blog entitled ‘Shop Fitting: Blending Functionality and Design’ on the www.lovehappensmag.com website.
Let’s take a look at a selection of these projects that make these ideas a reality as we delve into a number of projects from across the globe.
Canada’s leading book retailer approached Dalziel & Pow to create a concept for a key new opening in Toronto. This 16,000sq ft experience honours its Canadian roots and the community that makes each Indigo location a self-declared “happy place” for customers. The concept is a book-lovers paradise in the heart of downtown Toronto where in addition to a range of 40,000 books curated for the location, shoppers can experience a paper & stationery shop, home fragrance counter and music corner, equipped with a juke-box, for a playful nod to the nostalgic. The entire space is surrounded by an abundance of curated books alongside a dedicated manga & graphic novel zone with space for customers to dwell. The IndigoKids department includes a central hub, surrounded by books and toys for creativity, play and story-times. Indigo additionally partnered with Propeller Coffee Co. to offer a truck serving up pastries and coffee beverages while you shop.
Spanish brand Lladró is known for its whimsical, eccentric porcelain pieces, ranging from avant-garde lighting to quirky figurines such as the trophies for the NYCXDesign Awards, which are a unique version of Lladró’s iconic The Guest statues by Jaime Hayon. Now, in celebration of its 70th anniversary, the company has opened up shop in New York’s Meatpacking District next door to the recently shuttered Soho Home store. Inside, customers can peruse the company’s boundary-pushing porcelain wares and try on VR headsets that immerse customers in the goings-on at the Lladró workshop in Valencia, where makers handcraft each sculpture and lamp. The concept store’s interior design by Valencia-based Carmen Baselga Taller de Proyectos, is based around a sequence of vignettes highlighting the company’s many designer collaborations. It’s a new retail concept for the brand that’s rolling out around the world, including Beijing, in the Taikoo Li Sanlitun department store; Berlin, in the KaDeWe shopping centre; and Venice, in the Fondaco dei Tedeschi galleries. Back in the New York store, clean lines, arched portals, and soft colours – peach, green sage and sand – create a cohesive ambiance that lends focus to Lladró’s creations.
Wutopia Lab has created a whimsical setting for Duoyun Bookstore in Yancheng. For architects such as Ting Yu, Founder and Principal of Wutopia Lab, the city offers room to experiment – and is the perfect place to unleash their creative prowess in experiential retail design at a parent-child branch of Duoyun Bookstore. At first, however, Yu was hesitant to take on the 18,300sq ft project. Recently completing the award-winning Taizhou outpost of Duoyun, he was worried he might be typecast as a bookstore designer. Inside, the store consists of a two-storey retail area, a café and a children’s area. The entry is an elongated tunnel of perforated red aluminium that transports customers into a new world. It opens into what’s called the skylight book tower, an octagonal space with a red spiral staircase that leads up to a cupolalike nook. Both levels of the tower are lined with built-in shelves holding thousands of books for adults as well as Duoyun merchandise like stationery and tote bags.
A.H. Beard Mattress, a century-old ingenuity enterprise originating from Australia, aims to provide a quality sleep experience, adhering to the attitude of carving art to create every mattress, always adhering to the brand concept of nature, health and comfort and providing high-end quality products and services for global customers. For its commercial interior in Shanghai created for the Australian legacy mattress brand A.H. Beard, Farnear Design has designed a subtly lit, atmospheric environment showcasing their products in a space defined by a series of gently curved illuminated partitions which guide visitors through various areas. Indigo silk and off-white wool form subtle gradients which draw the eye on one side of the partitions, contrasting with the opposite side of glowing forms of stretched fabric which recall the plush, warm comfort of the mattresses themselves. Accents of natural timber, stone and fabric under a dark blue ceiling completes an elegant and heightened ambience, evoking the feeling of a poetic night under the stars.
As an online retailer specialised in the hottest young brands, South Korean retailer W Concept resonates well with the country’s on-trend youth. Diversifying its operations, the multi-brand retailer has started to open design-led shop-in-shops at department stores nationwide and one of the latest to open is in Busan. Situated on the fourth floor of Shinsegae Centum City, an upscale department store in the city’s Haeundae district, it occupies an elongated 132sq m unit which features an interior design by local architecture practice uneg. The interior design is inspired by characteristics of South Korea‘s second biggest city, such as its seaside location and the landmark Busan Harbour Bridge which spans across the harbour entrance. The coastal setting and bridge are captured by fluid lines and sleek pillars and cables. Another focal point is an undulating metal volume at the heart of the retail space which houses a fitting room. The new W Concept carries a tightly curated range of women’s apparel and accessories by a variety of South Korean brands.
Following six standalone boutiques in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, Australian fashion brand Dion Lee has recently inaugurated its very first flagship store in downtown Melbourne. The store occupies a two-level unit at 80 Collins Street, a cluster of buildings that’s home to high-end boutiques, hospitality concepts and offices and features a collaborative interior design of the brand’s Creative Director Dion Lee and Stockholm-based interior design practice Stamuli. The chosen aesthetic is understated with a number of industrial references, but it’s captured by an eclectic palette of materials, such as marble, stone, metal, bronze and glass, creating an edgy shopping environment that’ll surely resonate with Dion Lee‘s fashion-forward client base. Furnishings are few and simple, comprising of steel clothing racks on wheels, stone pallet-inspired displays, metal shelving and cabinets and chunky low benches with seemingly strapped-in leather upholstering.
Exposed ceilings with a myriad of beams and utility pipes are overlaid by suspended linear light fixtures and light spots, adding more visual layering. One floor up, the setting is more or less similar, presenting additional parts of Dion Lee‘s latest collections.
Fashion brand Farage has launched a five-storey concept store in Sydney, as it marks its 25th year in the industry. The gallery-like store, housed in a heritage building, is set to “redefine the shopping experience for fashion enthusiasts and design aficionados alike”, delivering to consumers a range of high-tech performance garments and ready-to-wear staples alongside the tailored suiting. Located at 109 Riley Street, amid Darlinghurst’s burgeoning design precinct, the store is in collaboration with Australian interior designer Greg Natale. The street-level floor features Farage’s latest collections, which include boutique fragrances and eyewear brands. The upper gallery has been turned into a suiting space, displaying contemporary clothes, furniture and artwork by Australian artists, including a piece by Marisa Purcell suspended beside the stone-clad service desk. The second-floor facility, elevated above Riley Street and outfitted with big private fitting rooms, will host intimate styling sessions for bridal parties, top-tier clientele and celebrities. The third level features photography studios, with a specific zone for capturing Farage’s collections. Meanwhile, creative offices on the fourth level act as the hub for Farage’s design and commercial operations. The rooftop terrace on the fifth level is also used for private showings and VIP events.
Also situated in Paris and back open after a more than two year renovation, Dior’s 50,000sq ft, three level boutique – which includes haute couture salons, two eateries, three gardens and a bookable private apartment – unfolds in a spatiotemporal narrative akin to a theatre set, creating what firm principal and Interior Design Hall of Fame member Peter Marino describes as a journey through the “inner essence” of the brand. The concept pays homage to Christian Dior’s love of fine art and plant life with commissioned works, many nature-themed or conveying a sense of movement: Guy Limone’s immersive collage of archival Dior photographs in a café; sliding panels combining jute and gilded gesso by Nancy Lorenz in fine jewellery; Joël Andrianomearisoa’s textile-based Ultime Saison, 2021, anchoring a mezzanine seating area.
On 10 October 2023, the first upper floor opened at BETTENRID in Theatinerstraße in Munich. As part of the joint master concept by umdasch The Store Makers and BETTENRID, all four floors of the traditional Bavarian company for high-quality home textiles have been converted in the style of an old villa since 2018. The Store Makers were responsible for the design, shopfitting and general contracting of the entire building. With the completion of the first upper floor, the long-standing cooperation between BETTENRID and umdasch in Theatinerstraße comes to a crowning conclusion. The guiding idea behind the project: the high-quality merchandise must be reflected in an equally high-quality presentation. On an area of 400sq m, the assortment on the first upper floor includes the living and terry area – from pillows and blankets to nightwear and terry goods to table and kitchen linen, customers will find everything related to home textiles. The first upper floor, like the other floors, was modelled on the style of an elegant old villa. This concept is reflected in many design elements that run through all floors.
The new Lunet boutique by Bogdan Ciocodeica Studio in Bucharest, Romania is a homage to old style eyewear stores, reinterpreted and re-contextualised in a contemporary way. All the shapes and volumes are stylised and synthesised to their essence, stripped of unnecessary information so that they become almost low resolution images, containing only the vital information, thus making up for a playful and pixelated environment. The central display modules balance the otherwise warm space with a touch of industrial aesthetic, mix of brushed metal and mirror cladding, keeping in line with the original concept of the first Lunet store, that of individual trying station, that offer a more intimate experience to the customer. The wooden vertical pieces, almost mimicking structural elements, are pixelated versions of columns infusing the space with a whimsical playfulness. The pixel pattern is found throughout the entire space, in the rug details and also the reception desk.
Last year, Aranyani, India’s first international luxury handbag brand, opened its exclusive flagship store in London’s Mayfair district. Based on a concept by the renowned design studio Kinnersley Kent Design, umdasch The Store Makers was responsible for shopfitting and general contracting. The store is a tribute to craftsmanship, tradition, sustainability, longevity and timelessness – the core values of the Aranyani brand. The shopping experience at the store is spread over two floors. The 50sq m ground floor primarily serves as an inviting retail space where the high-quality bags are prominently displayed. The basement, measuring just under 80sq m, features a classy consultation room where customers can discuss their individual wishes for a custom-made piece based on a wide portfolio of leather finishes, precious stones and other details. The creative team at Kinnersley Kent Design poured warm light colours, rich tones and natural materials into a virtuoso design, which umdasch The Store Makers translated into a matching shopfitting to bring the Aranyani story to life.
Spread over 40,000sq m by contractor HMY Group, the Printemps store in Doha, Qatar is a three-floor elliptical architectural masterpiece. Printemps Doha is the luxury fashion, beauty and lifestyle department store in Qatar, housing the most iconic luxury brands under one roof, including among others’ Louis Vuitton, Dior, Valentino, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga and Balmain. The department store also features the biggest beauty & wellness area in Qatar with 2,000sq m and 137 brands, ranging from the most illustrious names in the industry to the latest sustainable and vegan brands and all-time consumer favourites. HMY was commissioned to translate the beauty new concept to reality inside the iconic building created by the award-wining Yabu & Pushelberg studio.
In Abu Dhabi, UAE, Marina Home has designed and launched their new 2,400sq m store at Reem Mall. The design principle of the store revolves around reimagining the retail experience with use of authentic textures and materials, individual zones with personality and excellence. A harmonious infusion of raw textures of concrete, aged bricks, iron overhead support frames, engineered wooden beams, exposed ceilings and metal patio dividers all contribute to the unpretentious ambience that presents the naturally pristine backdrop to their diverse room set-ups. Taking centre stage and creating a distinctive design language are patios with wooden external elevations that pay homage to structural inspirations from vintage barn living modernised by the functionality of space. Orchestrated by beautiful mood lighting and a modern industrial loft deisgn, the new Marina Home store beckons shoppers to bask in lingering moments.
Back in 2020, Voltige Design & Architecture met Maximilian Busser when MB&F was looking at renewing its architectural identity for its retail network. It started as a conversation about the brand’s universe and its ties with science fiction and art but also about craftsmanship and the quality of handmade work, especially in furniture workshop from the 50s and 60s. This discussion set the creative frame of the project and drew the outline of what has become today the brand’s architectural identity. The result is an extension of the brand’s universe, with references to the golden age of science fiction and retro futurism as well as a homage to the craftsmen and designers of the last century. In the centre of the space shines a reflective elliptical art piece more than one meter in diameter that catches the eye and emphasizes MB&F’s support to art and creative minds in general.