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.