We look back at 2013 and reveal the best store design openings from around the world. Take a look at our final pick…
Agnès b, Hong Kong – a ‘slow’ brand re-imagined
The resurgence of the Agnès b brand in the Far East may be surprising to us in London, but the confidence and bravado of its development is significant. The Rue de Marseille store in Hong Kong epitomises that new-found confidence. A store full of surprises, both in stock mix and presentation, it brings together a variety of product in a true lifestyle package. Stock is presented in the style of the best J Crew flagships, but with a layer of flair and expression that looks more like Merci or Colette in Paris.
Argos, London – a truly unique proposition
It is rare to see an offer where digital disciplines are so integrated with the customer journey and the store experience. Argos takes a model, which was being challenged, to respond to changing customer expectations and exceeds them. The pilot stores have a raw honesty about the architecture that lets the digital communications stand out. The space is completely immersive, where moving images can adapt to messages and seasons to create a ‘takeover’ in any given moment. Customers are surprisingly amenable to such change, embracing the new with a newfound love for the brand and its vast product range.
Muji, Shanghai – great brand, great retail
In the autumn of 2013 Muji opened a hugely impressive store in the new IAPM mall in Shanghai. The mall is world class and the Muji store doesn’t disappoint. Feeling more like a lifestyle department store than a rollout of its standard approach, it has the quality, range and scale of a regional flagship. As with any great flagship, it offers more than just a shop, with gallery spaces, customisation and curation, and surprises at every turn. The architecture is free flowing from room to room, each space housing an abundance of stock in a very ordered and disciplined way, but leaving enough room for brand expression to engage the customer.
Theory, Los Angeles – pure retail, immaculately delivered
Theory has been majority owned by Fast Retailing, the owner of Uniqlo in Japan since 2003, and in that time it has enhanced its design credentials with some very ambitious and distinctive flagships, the most recent of which is the magnificent Melrose Avenue store in West Hollywood. The store is very sharp and bold on the street, hinting at the very controlled and pure interior beyond. The architecture of the corner site lends itself to the abstract interconnection of some very clear and precious rooms for each range and collection. The commitment to quality here is impressive. Each element of the space supports the brand’s premium position.
Dover Street Market, New York – creative expression personified
Having established itself in Dover Street, Mayfair, London and launched in 2012 in Ginza, Tokyo, Dover Street Market has launched its third and most expressive outlet in New York in 2013. The premium multibrand store defined the design language of pop-up years before we saw that trend. This brand occupies its spaces, rather than physically adapting those spaces. It invests in creative and challenging design that changes the way we think about super-premium brands and branding. As a point of reference it is invaluable for us all. The original London store was re-designed in early 2013, completely refreshed, but with that same eye for detail that feels so individual.