In 2014 we saw the resurgence of brand expression in super premium stores. Not long ago premium stores were more about what combination of monochrome finishes they could afford; now it’s about brand personality, what materials or combination of materials suits a brand, and how can they create something unique and individual. Celine, Dior, Valentino – many brands are trying harder to stand out.
We’ve seen digital design make an impact, not in transactional kiosks, but in the total retail experience. Immersive and rich, this aids storytelling and product enhancement. The calm reassurance of The White Company’s digital solution in Norwich is an example of a brand delivering digital at a personal level.
We’ve seen brands attempt to be more personal, more connected, breaking down the barriers between a store and its customers with personal references such as workshops, PR spaces and personal shopping spaces. Things have been very much more bespoke this year. Jigsaw opens up its PR room to the shop floor in the Duke St. Emporium to good effect.
Hopefully we will see fewer look-a-like stores in the mass market. Even in that very popular area, brands can find their own voice, their unique point of difference. Too many concepts rely on recycling the latest denim signage, or white-framed gondolas sitting on dark grey floors. We will see a less corporate approach to mass multiples, where shops are designed in response to their location, their place in the brand’s portfolio. One size no longer fits all.
We will see less white and grey boxes as we look for new and interesting textures and finishes. We can be braver, more strident in our opinions, to make an impression in our crowded market.
In the digital arena, we will see fewer kiosks in store as customers revert to their own devices.
More than ever, a good design can make or break a brand. We find ourselves more integrated with brand strategy in an attempt to guarantee a relevant and effective result.
Stores will explore more integrated digital design in new and inventive ways. This one factor could transform a retail experience, switching from the mundane to the inspirational.
Convenience and contemplation will be polarised, with quick-pay, easy shopping in one area and calm, contemplative shopping in another. There is certainly room for both in 2015.
In 2015 we will see Primark push on its global plans with the launch of several new flagship stores, building on some great concepts in 2014.
In 2015 it will no longer be sufficient for store design to be just good enough; it needs to be truly exceptional. We have to justify the investment incurred in any new concept, both in time and money. New ideas need to show a direct return on investment.
The influence of UK design will spread globally as international markets take advantage of our expertise, honed here in the most competitive of markets.