Monthly Archives: October 2012

more pop!

To launch its new perfume, “La Petite Robe noire”, Guerlain has set up, for a few months only, a pop-up store next door to its flagship outlet at 68, avenue des Champs-Elysées. But the little shop has nothing to do with the stalls featuring derivative products.

With its olfactive and photographic workshops, the pop-up store is designed to be more fun and interactive than its traditional equivalent. The store features the imagery developed by the visual artists Kuntzel+Deygas to promote “La Petite Robe noire”, plus a series of artistic works reinterpreting certain of the brand’s codes that evoke emotional connection and a very casual introduction to the brand for the customer.

The temporary store will say its goodbyes in November this year to allow work to begin on extensions to the flagship store, in 2013.

Not to be missed as long as it lasts!

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keeping up the dream!

Keeping a competitive edge in the jewelry business is certainly a high call. Competition is fierce and the distinctions between high and low end are blurring continuously. So it can be a designer’s call to help keeping a brand on the forefront.

One thing is certain: the fascination about jewelry plays with notion of the surprise and unknown. Jewelry is mostly meant to represent value as in “appreciation” or  “quality”. Certainly it is important to keep the mysticism about the product alive. Which woman would want to know the “truth” about the piece she is being offered? What matters is the fantasy that is attached to it, the story that carries the product. So a way to success is to keep the dream alive that accompanies each product. Never talk about price or origin of product unless the customer asks for it. That is certainly true for jewelry.

Design can help. Packaging can improve on the fantasy that comes with the product. Rich and delicate packaging will help emphasize the value of the product inside. Display fixtures can present product in a most refined but also intimate way to make the observer feel special. So does the shopping environment. A retail store can help carry the notion of mystery, luxe and secrecy for its customer. A space that supports dreams, personal discovery, romanticism and mysticism keeps the dream alive. It can be theatrical, dramatical and sensual and must evoke emotions in the customer to create the notion of the fantasy that is attached to the product.

Below is an example of a store we designed a few years ago for the French jewelry brand Mauboussin on New York’s Madison Avenue. The store occupied three floors of a town house and was very much designed to be a dream land inside a private mansion. From the outside one would not see the entrance – it was disguised by show windows that one had to “peek” into to see the merchandise. This played with the idea of private discovery of a valuable. The façade would transform at night into an animated display of sparkling shapes and colors.

Once you entered the store you would be engulfed in darkness, creating a surprising moment. A sparkling display was the only thing one would see before they eyes adjusted and one would discover randomly placed “treasure boxes” in the space, which would reveal the merchandise once approached. Trick mirrors in some displays supported the idea of being in a fantasy world. Private sit-downs, to look at merchandise, would be facilitated in areas with oversized comfort furniture slightly distorted in proportions to underline the surrealist nature of the environment.

As one would ascend through the mansion to the upper level the color schemes would change. Silver walls and dim light defined the diamond level and bright lights with a white color scheme characterized the bridal floor. The colors of the finishes in the spaces would lighten up as one progressed upwards towards the sky. The bridal level was finished in the most sumptuous white materials such as goose feathers, satins panels, soft leather and murano glass beaded wall coverings, long hair carpets, Ostrich feather dividers and a soft tufted ceiling feature to create a sensual environment for a customer in a very emotional state.

The idea was to create a retail environment out of a fairy tale so that the dream of the product comes to life in the store.

The store is still there – 714 Madison Avenue, New York, even though the 1st and 2nd floor have been altered since the original installation.

storefront with nigh theme

first impression

treasure boxes to discover precious items

diamond bars

diamond level

private consultation

bridal floor

treasure box displays / bridal floor


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This one comes with the intent of a little self promotion. We just completed the renovation of Bumble and bumble’s founding salon in New York City on 146 E 56th Street. The Salon had undergone many iterations of fix ups during the past 20 years with the result that not only it looked outdated but the look did not hold together any more. Neither did the experience.

So we first re-imagined the ideal customer experience together with the Salon team and then built the design out from key moments in it. The outcome is a look that builds on brand heritage in a contemporary way and a carefully choreographed experience with refreshingly surprising elements along the way. Check it out if you are in the neighborhood. Open every day except Mondays.

arrival – welcome – shop lounge
illustration©Monte Antrim

the wall of fame
illustration©Monte Antrim

the cut floor and the wall of heroes
illustration©Monte Antrim

the experience at the station
illustration©Monte Antrim

photography©Rebecca Mc Alpin

the shop lounge
photography©Rebecca Mc Alpin

photography©Rebecca Mc Alpin

the cut floor and the wall of heroes
photography©Rebecca Mc Alpin

the waiting lounge
photography©Rebecca Mc Alpin

©Regis Pean

changing room
photography©Rebecca Mc Alpin

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full circle

In my last post I showed Aesop stores that are beautifully crafted using the product packaging to re-enforce brand identity.

Here is another exceptional example  of a store that was built with the full consumer experience in mind. Thought was given to the product packaging design first which then became the building block for the store design. Synchronized with bold graphics it all comes together as one strong brand story that create a memorable customer experience that does not stop in store but can be taken home.

Brilliantly executed by Creneau International from Belgium.

Eye glass packaging with bold graphics

The box contains the product…

…and accessories.

Stacked into a grid the boxes form the display walls.

Graphics identify product categories.

It all comes full circle to form a store environment.

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