disrupt

Every brand wants to be unique. In the ever-growing arena of physical retail  stores the competition for an experience that creates a lasting memory with their customers is fierce.  To be relevant today means to be talked about. The five-minute fame is the minimum goal and success in retail brand design is measured after sales but also after popularity. Write ups in glossy industry magazines as well as mentions on blogs, Facebook and Twitter are moving the mark today.

In a previous post I elaborated on the strategy of using the concept of illusion to attract attention. Today I want to highlight the concept of disruption. To be unique means you do something nobody else does. You invent or repurpose something in a new inventive way. You disrupt the conventional. The purpose of it is not uniqueness in itself but to surprise  with a new perspective, perception or understanding of things similar as conceptual art is done. It evokes critical thinking, questioning and often emotions, which is what touches us about art. I see this strategic tactic increasingly borrowed in the world of branded retail design. Not the inclusion of a commissioned art piece but rather the application of a similar conceptional approach. The really unique results shine through brilliant conception, tightly connected to the brand’s DNA, challenging the visitor (as of “in a museum”) with a new idea thus creating a moment of deep engagement and connection. With disruption I mean the breaking of the expected mould. Challenging the expectation and offering a truly new experience. It is unfortunately rarely achieved. It takes guts for a brand to take this direction. Newness involves risk taking and although they are thirsty for it, most brands are not daring enough to step beyond the boundaries of conventions to explore the field of the unknown. It takes a confident and visionary leader inside a brand to understand the benefit of such direction. An increasingly rare species, which is why it is such a great achievement for those who have gone there.

I am listing below a few examples, not all necessarily most ones, but relevant to illustrate the idea:

Store fronts:

Commes des garcons

Commes des garcons

 

The Reduction of color and geometry as an extreme measure to highlight the labels sub brand.

Absence is the disruptive tactic.

CdG is a master of disruption.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prada Los Angeles

Prada Los Angeles

 

A brutalist architectural move and the absence of a store front. Vitrines are in the floor. Customers don’t see a store but a large stair engaging the entry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prada Tokyo

Prada Tokyo

 

The entrance is a “gate” to another world. Disruptive geometry throughout the building.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apple Shanghai

Apple Shanghai

 

An object marks the entrance to a non visible world. It breaks with all retail conventions: No visible store.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abercrombie NYC

Abercrombie NYC

 

Another store that is completely closed off to the outside. Engaging with the curiosity of the customer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Building Fassades:

Pharmacy in Portugal

Pharmacy in Portugal

 

Unconventional signage. The building = the brand.

The signage becomes an art piece.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comme des garçons -HK

Comme des garçons -HK

 

Architectural branding.

The facade  as a canvas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Selfridges Birmingham

Selfridges Birmingham

 

 

Here the building shape and the facade becomes the expression of the brand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interiors:

Starbucks Fukuoka

Starbucks Fukuoka

 

A space defining structure that speaks about local craftsmanship.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Longchamp NYC

Longchamp NYC

 

A sculptural stair that points to the leather heritage of the brand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prada NYC

Prada NYC

 

A stage in a life style store.

 

 

 

 

 

Helmut Lang NYC

Helmut Lang NYC

 

A seemingly empty store engages in customers curiosity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comes des garcons

Comes des garcons

 

A space difficult to understand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Selfridges & Louis Vuitton

Selfridges & Louis Vuitton

 

A disorienting world of color and texture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mauboussin Paris Vendome

Mauboussin Paris Vendome

 

Street art style  and erotic in a high-end jewelry store.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Displays:

Helmut Lang perfumery NYC

Helmut Lang perfumery NYC

 

Less is more. The less you show, the more it is visible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MAC Cosmetics NYC

MAC Cosmetics NYC

 

Landscapes of color. Unexpected arrangements of product.

Unconventional material use.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mistral, Sao Paolo

Mistral, Sao Paolo

 

Wine from another angle. Display re-thought.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Citroen Paris

Citroen Paris

 

Cars in a new perspective. Clever layout and the use of mirrors throughout allo customers to experience cars in an innovative way.

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