Opinion

Let's talk Environments

Environments form a vital part of brand experiences. Creative Director, David Dalziel, explains D&P's take on creating spaces that attract and engage.

DD
By David Dalziel
Posted 06. 02. 2020
Introducing Brand Environments

Why we're here

A relentlessly changing market is driving our industry forward, with major shifts in consumer behaviour. It’s our role to anticipate where these constantly evolving needs are taking us.

Our heritage is in retail design, but nowadays that means so much more than deciding on fixtures, floors, colours and lighting. Aesthetics alone are not enough - we’re here to create the most innovative, popular and, most of all, engaging brand experiences in the world.

But at the heart of any engaging brand experience, there is an inviting space that unites the brand with its customers and helps them tell their story.

At D&P, we design extraordinary environments that meet not only the needs of the new consumer and forward-thinking brands, but also bring the two together under one roof.

Our approach

We believe environments are a vital touchpoint to help brands build community, harness the power of their people and interact with their customers face-to-face.

These environments should feel good, work well, start conversations, and inspire you to stay, shop and share.

They should be spaces that create more awareness, engagement, advocacy and commercial growth for the brand, and ultimately form the base of a proven strategy to create better human connections where digital-only experiences fall short.

When undertaking a new project, one of the key areas we focus on within our 6Ps framework is ‘Place’ - how can a brand utilise its space to maximum effect in order to deliver a remarkable brand experience to its consumers.

But we don’t just consider that in isolation. We also look at what the brand’s Purpose is within that space; how to allow Personality to shine through; what role the brand’s People play within the environment; suggestions for Product and services on offer; and the most effective and convenient Processes to aid the customer experience in-store. Exploring how these elements work together is key to creating extraordinary brand environments that consumers love.

This is the way we work and the reason why we have built up a global portfolio of successful projects across the retail, leisure and service industries over the past 36 years.

Virgin Media
virgin media's brand home brings their personality to life in their workspace

Challenges

Clients big and small, local and global, come to us with various challenges:

  • How can I create an innovative, world-class retail concept for our target consumer?
  • How can I create a smart, adaptable and relevant family of formats for maximum exposure and reach?
  • How can I create destinations that increase dwell time, advocacy and customer satisfaction?
  • How can I rethink our physical spaces to meet the needs of our customers, and our staff?
  • How can I create a robust effective and sustainable concept for roll-out across our portfolio?

Through our unique approach and proven expertise in crafting engaging brand environments, we provide them with solutions.

Eobuwie hero image
a design-led approach to fast and slow customer journeys for eobuwie

Since starting out in 1983, we've worked on projects everywhere from Dublin to Delhi to Dubai. Here are some examples of what we do and how we work:

A focus on design

The creation of iconic brand and retail concepts through cutting-edge design is at the heart of what we do. We’ve worked on award-winning projects across a range of sectors, each recognised for their aesthetic excellence but varying hugely in style.

At one end of the spectrum we have The Shop at Bluebird, a visual feast of art and splendour, full of theatrical interior details, Instagrammable moments and a mixture of colours, patterns and textures. At the other end we have the slick, minimalist concept we designed for shoe-brand Eobuwie - smooth surfaces, sharp corners and industrial-style framework work together to prove that less is sometimes more. Whoever the client, our Environments team’s top priority is crafting a design that epitomises them as a brand.

The Shop at Bluebird
a mirrored icosahedron installation hangs in the atrium of the shop at bluebird

Format development

Developing and adapting formats as part of a wider retail strategy is vital to a brand’s success. From convenience through to big box and department stores, we strive to evolve ideas for varying formats and spaces.

Our recent work with Boots has seen us establish a ‘store of the future’ concept, transforming the high-street favourite into a health and beauty destination in its own right. From a stand-out flagship in Covent Garden through to a single-floor shopping centre store in Meadowhall and standalone Opticians and Pharmacy offerings opening soon, our focus on format development keeps concepts fresh and effective.

Boots Beauty
boots' new store of the future concept works across various formats

Things to do, not just buy

We’re in the era of experience, which means that consumers are less interested in buying and more interested in doing. We encourage our clients to transform their store experience by using the space to create communities and provide additional services for customers to enjoy.

Birmingham's Primark isn’t just a retail space - a range of coffee shops, beauty services and even a hairdressers offer customers somewhere to kick back, relax and ultimately spend more time in-store.

For activewear brand Lululemon’s flagship store on Regent Street, we designed a space that would also function as a community hub. The first floor houses a curated community space, with a wellness kitchen full of healthy food and drinks and a flexi-space for yoga practise and other classes providing fans of the brand with a place to meet and work out together as part of an active community.

Lululemon brand environments
lululemon's wellness kitchen helps the brand create community

Long-standing clients

We started out designing pubs, clubs and bars and have since expanded our portfolio to include some of the biggest retail brands in the world, many of who we are proud to call long-term clients.

We started working with Primark back in 1988 and have since gone on to design flagships and stores for the brand in the UK, Spain, Germany, Belgium and the USA, with our latest work launching in their largest store to date in Birmingham earlier this year.

Next have been another loyal client for us, and over the past 15 years we have worked on numerous concepts for both their fashion and Home & Garden offer, helping them maintain their strong position in the retail landscape. We worked with River Island for 28 years, designing new environments to help them make the vital shift from Chelsea Girl back in 1986 to the brand we know now.

Primark Madrid brand environments
our led digital installation lights up primark's award-winning madrid store

Over the years, we have led retail design projects for many other clients including John Lewis & Partners, Nationwide, David Jones and Missguided. Every project has its own unique challenges but each shares a consistent approach in translating the brand into a physical environment that meets consumer needs and allows its personality to shine through.

And that’s us!

At D&P we believe that to survive and thrive in the world today, all brands need to insightful and inventive across the entire brand experience – defining the brand purpose, personality, places, processes, people and products. This holistic approach helps our clients create the most engaging and successful brands in the world. If this is something you'd like to do, please get in touch.

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