From flexible, multifunctional retail spaces to a sensational new look for women’s fashion inside Tokyo’s infamous department store Seibu Shibuya, take a look at the concepts that have our captured our imagination this month…
Dutch eyewear company Ace & Tate draws inspiration from contemporary exhibition spaces for its latest store, making a “Minimalist statement” with white walls, mirrored surfaces and black steel balustrades. One of the most stylish eyewear stores we’ve seen, the space actually doubles up as an art gallery and backdrop for lookbook shoots as well as stocking the full range of frames. Following on from the novel pegboard display system in Ace & Tate’s Amsterdam flagship (opened August 2015), in the new Utrecht store the brand opts for an understated wall-mounted grid-like shelving system, integrated with circular mirrors. From the oak counter and to the tube lighting, all furniture and accessories in the store have been custom-made.
What we love:
Beyond the calm and minimalism of the main store, there is a sanctuary-like separate consultation room discretely hidden behind a mirrored wall and lined in grey-coloured felt in order to absorb any noise.
Japanese department store Seibu Shibuya has given its women’s fashion department a playful new look based on a circus theme, aiming for a more casual feel to target younger customers. At the helm was Tokyo creative studio Nendo, which had previously designed another fashion department, ‘Compolux’, in Sheibu’s annex building (the two are connected by a walkway). The new department, ‘Key to Style’, moves on from the elegant European park aesthetic of Compolux, combining bright turquoise and vividly patterned surfaces. However, there is continuity between the two – for example, the former’s greyscale herringbone flooring flows into the new zigzag plastic tiling across the connecting walkway.
What we love
The amusement park inspiration has been interpreted cleverly and playfully throughout the space, from arranging brands in market stall-style units to using striped awnings and lengths of bunting to divide spaces and embellish clothing rails.
Just a stone’s throw from our studio, we stumbled upon this unique new concept shop that merges a florist and garden shop with a collection of artisan work. The boutique’s range of succulents and pot plants spill out onto bustling Exmouth Market (home to a mix of independent cafes, boutiques and a thriving food market), and inside the botanical theme runs through the offer, from floral motif jewellery to stationery featuring pressed petals. Seasonal flowers are hand-tied on the chipwood counter, while products are displayed on a mix of reclaimed wooden ladders, glass cabinets and trellis tables, creating a space that’s both rustic potting shed and treasure trove.
What we love
Curating cross-category products around a special interest theme – in this case, botany and gardening – is a novel approach to the retail hybrid. Botanique’s offer appeals to creative customers with products being hand-crafted at a workbench on the shop floor, and a line-up of workshops, such as wreath-making at Christmas time.
Hot on the heels of its November 2015 opening on Piazza del Carmine, Australian skincare brand Aesop has opened its second store in Milan. Renowned for its unique, locally tailored store design, Aesop takes design cues from 1930s Italian villas for the 35sqm boutique on via meraviglI, created in collaboration with Milanese design firm Dimore Studio. Furniture is reminiscent of the antique chests and cupboards, while the linoleum flooring references the pantry in Villa Necchi. Glossy teal tiling accentuates the interior’s high archways, joined by a muted palette of antique greens, yellows and pastel pinks, and a stack of vintage globes. Teal display cabinets wrap the inner walls, giving glimpses of product through silver-edged windows. Two large disks suspended by brass rods acts illuminate the space, with a stainless steel wash basin positioned beneath one of the lights for product demonstrations.
What we love
The distinctive design is infused with regional culture to complement its location in Milan’s historic centre and offer a unique encounter with a global brand.
A complete departure from the typical mobile phone shop, O2’s ‘Home of Connections’ is a relaxed, agile space that customers are encouraged to use however it suits them. We worked with O2 to design a more interactive, inspiring environment, expressed in everything from the large community table where people can work remotely, charge their phones or enjoy a complimentary coffee, to the chatty tone of voice and roving technology tutorials delivered by O2 Gurus. At 2,300sqft, it’s three times the size of the brand’s usual stores and infused with local relevance – a place to find out about the latest music events and film screenings in Manchester.
What we love:
The versatile design – including reconfigurable digital screens in the windows and an experiential pop-up zone – means the store can be regularly updated to tell relevant stories and host brand takeovers. This offers customers something new to discover each time they visit. For launch, this was themed around Star Wars: The Force Awakens, complete with a BB-8 Training Zone.
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By facing up to some hard industry truths and focussing on uncovering and communicating authentic USPs to audiences, we believe beauty brands will be able to connect in deeper, more meaningful ways.