Tag Archives: retail design

What it takes…

Brands want to be innovative and catching with their customers. They seek to connect on an emotional level. Designers need to deliver concepts that can facilitate this goal. Creating such a strategic design takes a lot of very deep considerations – for the brand, its back ground, history, people, message,operations, sales, intent and culture – and for the customers, who are seeking innovation and a unique experience.

A good strategic brand concept  for a store translates into designs at all scales that are custom tailored to the brand, its expression to the customer and its operational requirements.We task ourselves to invent environments that facilitate truly unique consumer/user experiences.

I will illustrate this along the following case study:

My first substantial task with MAC Cosmetics was to create a new retail store environment for them. The brand is rooted in professional make up artistry with a strong emphasis on individual creative expression.

mac cosmetics design

MAC Cosmetics design

Our first considerations were explorations as to what the environments, in which make up artists work, looked like and what did and did not work.It was clear that we needed something that was adaptable and flexible to suit the individual needs and promote the artists. A sort of open stage with a flexible arrangement of functional fixtures and tools. In response we developed a modular fixture system that could be re-arranged to endless configurations by any one without the use of tools.we sketched, drew and built models until we knew what worked.

00video2

00video6

For the feel of the space we wanted it to be unique to the brand and the products, so we needed something that linked the environment to the idea of products applied to skin. We wanted it to be recognizable that this environment is made to showcase make-up and no other product. So we considered the theme of skin and its organic characteristics. We invented a material to skin our modular fixtures so that consumer would have a memorable touch sensation when getting in contact with our fixtures. Those top skins were equally modular so they would not impact the flexibility of the fixtures below. In line with this idea we developed displays from an animated scenario of attractors that simulated the interaction around the fixture through customers. It created organic displays, onto which we organized product along elevation lines similar to the lines found on maps of mountains.

Image converted using ifftoany

 

 

 

 

counter top wireframe

contourmodel_07

all displayers

 

The long design process eventually led to beautiful sculptural objects. Some of the we lit from below to accentuate their shapes.

 

eye testerlip mountain

lipstick copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Further we developed accessories like hand mirrors with an organic look and touch to emphasize the theme of skin and beauty. The concept needs to apply at all scales. They were paired with sensor activated water fountains that emerged from the counter top skin creating another impactful organic moment.

soho10

 

The space itself also needed to speak the same formal language so we created concept touch points through out the store such as areas where we”peeled” the floor off the ground to form an organic enclosure for privacy or  “melted” the ceiling to a softer, organic form or poured a thick 1″ layer of clear Urethane on the floor, to soften the hardness of the space. We choose finishes that contrasted and gave a dynamic quality to the space. The fixtures ended up being built from cement board and a custom formulated Poly Urethane. The space had elements of concrete and acrylic, rather neutral for it to function as a presentation stage for the sculptural fixtures.

 

plexwall3

soho7

soho6

 

The whole effort of 4 months of design, 8 months of development and 4 months of construction resulted in an engaging, unique and innovative environment.

soho1

MAC Cosmetics / New York

 

regis pean + omni//form is a strategic architecture and design firm creating
experience based design around the world
Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

when disruption is inspiration

Much has been written about it since it opened in late December of 2013, but I would like to mention Dover Street Market/ New York in context of disruption, a retail strategy I wrote about back in October of 2013, as Comme des Garçons, the driving force behind this innovative retail experiment, has once again proven to be the master of this discipline. Established as the third and american brother of its  original in London we have to ignore the decadence that comes with Favella resembling environments, which sell goods at highest price points for their emotional values as a result of the endorsement of this place and the brands it carries. Instead I would like to draw focus on the creative aspects of the environment, which so refreshingly surprise and disrupt even the savviest retail expert on their discovery through this fashion temple.

Maybe I need to mention the choice of location as the first surprise, a corner in New York’s mid-town, that has absolutely no comparable retail in its immediate vicinity and is more characterized by uninspiring neighborhood restaurants and faceless apartment buildings and would in everyone mind be a financial suicide for such an undertaking. This is where brand confidence crossed with brilliant marketing comes into play, a long-held tradition for Comme des Garçons , where ever they go. ( I do remind of the “Orange Door” in a back alley of Tokyo’s Aoyama district that in absence of a logo lead into a 2 story world of high-end fashion for the ones “in the know” or the store on West 22nd Street in New York’s gallery district in the early 2000s, hidden behind the facade of a car repair shop). And for all those who never dare – it always paid off.

Not intimidated by the relatively small footprint a genius strike is the glass elevator that was brutalistically implanted in the center of each of the 7  floor plates to allow the customer a preview of the entire store offering in one ride to the top, regardless of the fact that it disrupts traffic, views and merchandising on most levels. It is the prime stimulus to the carefully choreographed creative chaos that is dispersed over 7 floors in a souk style fashion.

With displaying multiple brands comes the coexistence problem of multiple identities in one field. To which the creators of this stimulating environment answered by masking the individual brands with crafty expressions of carefully curated fixture (systems) and original to bizarrely defaced  furniture pieces to mini stage sets. If the product does not make you stop then the (art) installations displaying it may have a better chance. Or maybe the freestanding dressing rooms objects will make you want to explore? Whether it resembles high craft or random assemblies, this world of creativity is outfitted with surprises that disrupt one’s expectation at every angle, turning the retail journey into a highly entertaining and inspiring adventure.

It may not convince on all levels of execution but it certainly gains high appreciation on the conceptual end showing once again that Rei Kawakubo and her team are way ahead of their time having created an environment again that is unique and unparalleled yet.

omniform on dover street market

omniform on dover street market

omniform on dover street market

omniform on dover street market

omniform on dover street market

omniform on dover street market

omniform on dover street market

omniform on dover street market

omniform on dover street market

omniform on dover street market

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
regis pean + omni//form is a strategic architecture and design firm creating
experience based design around the world
Tagged , , , , , , , ,

retail tech outlook

The big news over the past couple of weeks in the retail and fashion tech space was of course the concept of Amazon drones, but multiple other stories grabbed the headlines too. Here’s a highlight of the best ones…

instagram-direct-2

  • IBM’s Watson explores the great e-commerce unknown with The North Face [AdAge]
  • What Instagram Direct means for fashion brands (as pictured) [Fashionista]
  • Barneys creates holiday .gif guide to appeal to younger consumers [Luxury Daily]
  • Harrods’ Christmas Weibo campaign engages London’s Chinese tourist influx [Jing Daily]
  • Karmaloop targets millennials with YouTube and Snapchat holiday plan [AdWeek]
  • Kmart’s ‘Ship My Pants’ gets the Dickens treatment for Christmas [AdAge]
  • Native advertising: the pros and cons [WWD]
  • Designing the next generation of wearables, with women in mind [Fast Company]
  • With 3-D printing, clothing that leaves out the sewing machine [NY Times]
  • Mallzee is a Tinder-esque shopping app that lets your friends play fashion police [TechCrunch]
  • Start-up Thread is building a scalable personal styling service, blending human stylists and intelligent algorithms [BoF]
  • Instagram is the ‘best platform for brands’ in 2013, beating out Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ [Venture Beat]
  • Retailers look to their best customers, not bloggers, as the new influencers [Fashionista]
  • Gap’s ad with Sikh model Waris Ahluwalia defaced with racist graffiti, drawing incredible response from company [Huffington Post]

(Reblogged from Fashion and Mash)

regis pean + omni//form is a strategic architecture and design firm creating
experience based design around the world
Tagged , , , ,

brand architecture

brand translated into architecture

shape from content

story telling details

finishes from context

The interior architecture is informed by the brand concept . The space is shaped by a structure of yarn into a minimalist decorative environment that speaks the language of precision, quality and detail. Careful consideration of lighting and product placement offers stunning effect with less to support the brand philosophy.

pas de calais

IMG_4126

IMG_4125

IMG_4124

Pas de calais, in Soho, NY since April 2013

regis pean + omni//form is a strategic architecture and design firm creating
experience based design around the world
Tagged , , , , , , ,

all bespoke

Many brands have evolved over many years after establishing themselves in the market. Once the positioning is solid they reach out for a greater consumer share in the need of bigger market share. It’s a tricky decision process for brand leaders as they have to decide to expand beyond their core position. Luxury brands have been observed to create sub brands to address the middle income customer, watering down critically their brand  sometimes dangerously close to  a brand image loss by alienating their core high end customer. The (sub) brand is suddenly found in outlet shopping malls and similar giving access to a customer that the high end loyalist would prefer to distinguish themselves from.

However  we can see an increasing contrary trend of brands expanding upwards  to balance out the offering and getting back the ultra exclusive clientele. The key word is “bespoke”, quite the original concept of “couture”, where goods are being customized for the customer. Below is a most recent example about what Prada is doing.

September 20, 2013

Prada’s Made to Order Collection Finishes Worldwide Tour in Milan

Prada RTW Spring 2014

“Ultimate Prada Made to Order Collection.”

Photo By Stéphane Feugère

Prada RTW Spring 2014

“Ultimate Prada Made to Order Collection.”

Photo By Stéphane Feugère

MILAN — The “Ultimate Prada Made to Order Collection.” No, it’s not the working title of a new fashion-satire TV show, but an initiative Prada has been developing quietly for some time. The most recent addition: furs, a lineup of 35 intricately crafted coats in mink, sable and long-haired goat.

The collection has been on a worldwide tour since April, touching cities including Singapore, Moscow, Prague, Beijing, Tokyo, Beverly Hills, London, Dubai and Paris. The last stop is Milan, where the collection is on view — and for sale — through today at a frescoed early-20th-century villa on Via Melzi d’Eril. The property is owned by Prada and was the site of Miuccia Prada’s first fashion show in 1988.

The ground-floor salons were redone for the event. Furnishings include an arrangement of Prada’s saffiano leather trunks in onyx black and Verner Panton sofas reproduced exclusively for the house. Prada herself chose the major art pieces on display, including works by Enrico Castellani, Emilio Vedova and Damien Hirst.

This by-appointment-only initiative allows top customers to order designs unavailable at retail and to have those pieces made to measure. Delivery is within two months of the order. In addition to the furs, the program includes sizable ranges of custom handbags and shoes.

The feather-light furs, made in-house and by hand in Tuscany’s Fucecchio, include mink with hand-cut strips sewn into a chevron motif; sable with tulle lining, and stretch fox (worked on elastic net) lined with chiffon. Each solid-hued style is available in a number of colors; the hibiscus-motif from the recent cruise collection, in custom combinations. Similarly, the accessories are offered in various materials, 25 colors each of crocodile and ostrich, and 35 of silk. Shoes can be soled in black and pink, to which clients can add their initials, either embossed or studded.

The project focuses on two aspects of the Prada’s luxury oeuvre: craftsmanship and superior service. “Our aim was to create an environment that could express the quintessence of how luxury can be absolute and exclusive, as every single detail can be personalized,” said Stefano Cantino, Prada Group communications and external relations director.

Tagged , , , ,

consumer engagement

Retail is entertainment now. We realize that today’s customers want more than product on display. They want stories to explore, communities to connect to, fun, excitement and surprise.  A trip to a retail store is expected to be a continuous discovery. What’s new? is not a question but a demand. And brands have to cater to it to stay in the game.

As product launches and visual stories have quantitative limitations ( per year/per season) it has become an unwritten rule to success to include other forms of engagement to quench the consumer’s increasing thirst for stimulation. The demand for innovative concepts is pushing designers and think tanks to generate constant surprises with a “never-seen-that-before” idea. Often this innovation is replaced by any type of gadget with the hope that technology itself will be the saver. But unless put into a relevant context to the brand story those gadgets often remain unused and ignored (think iPads with irrelevant or boring content).

Here are some better examples of tech gadgets:

QR code activation

The clever part of QR codes is that it requires no hardware ( and with that no maintenance) on the store side. The QR code is on the visual and the consumer activates it with their own handheld device to access the digital side of the brand.

 

 

 

 

url-2

This actually works! The good part here is that it is coupled with a printer, so the personalized remedy for your skin prints out as a recipe to take to the counter for purchase and eventually home with you (so you wont forget!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smashbox Arnotts Dublin

We have seen a lot of these photo booths pop-up recently. They draw a lot of attention, especially with younger customers.  However, rarely are they relevant to the brand they promote.

We thought a fitting place for this would be a brand that is rooted in photography? So we included the photo booth into a setup for Smashbox Cosmetics, a brand that was actually founded in a photo studio. It infuses fun and allows for upload to social media and print outs to take home. Created-tested-photographed at Smashbox.

 

 

 

Barneys_NewYork_table

This dining table is a touchscreen. You order what you want to eat and while you wait for your food  you can browse and shop from the store the restaurant is attached to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apple

When your product is the tech gadget all you need to do is place it on a table and make it accessible. Immediate interactivity.

 

 

 

 

 

There are many advocates  for high-tech solutions, but in my experience the simple is often the better. The more intuitive the better. The less technical the more fail save.

Engagement can also mean low tech. Addressing senses to create a multilayered memory. Wether it is a scent, a sound, a touch those can all augment the experience.

Lego

What is more fun than playing with the product? Instant engagement!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lunx

Smell triggers emotions and memories. In the world of beauty lots of products are chosen by consumers for their smell, which often is only a by-product of the formula. Making the fragrance a touch point creates an indirect engagement with the affiliated product.

 

 

 

 

 

omni//form for Mac cosmetics

These displays are soft and squeezable. I designed these years ago to create a haptic memory in customers. The unexpectedness of the touch created lasting memories (and conversations!) Products for skin care  and beauty displayed on organic shaped skins. Hand mirrors in unexpected shapes fit perfectly into ones hands creating a “feel-good” moment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sheraton

Sound: One can plug-in their portable music device into these rocking chairs and sound comes out of the back. Fun to experience and surprising. We designed this for a hotel lobby.

 

 

 

 

 

These are some examples of tactics of consumer engagement, however the most effective way is still the oldest and most traditional one: the human exchange. Nothing compares to a smile and a great advice from a knowledgeable sales person if you want your consumer to love your brand. No design can beat that.

Tagged , , , , ,

illusion in retail

As retail transforms increasingly into a world of leisure and entertainment today’s designers have to be able to craft environments able to tell stories and to amuse. Retail is standing in for the historic circus, constantly re-inventing its content  to entertain people with surprising effects and acts. The product is no longer the only intent of the visit when the retail space has become a social market place to meet, exchange, learn and discover. Cool hunters are out to be the first ones to discover the uncovered, unusual and unexpected.

Visual effects are tools that we borrow from theater design because they can support a story with a lasting emotional imprint. Sometimes a simple tactic can create a surprising illusion that fully transforms an environment to a fantastical un-real world. While such techniques usually have a short life span (once you have seen it, you are over it) they certainly contribute for the brand to be talked about. Like the buzz around an artshow.

Such effects can be found increasingly executed through new technologies of all kinds but my experience has told me to stay away from high tech solutions in retail as they are usually not suited for 20hrs of operations 7 days a week and when they break it leaves a very dull space behind. The tactics I am referring to are low tech with high impact.

To illustrate I am listing some  examples here below:

comme-des-garcons-nyc-chelsea-mens-japanese-1

comme des garçons in New York

Marking Entry: The futuristic entry into this store stands in opposition to the building. It is a threshold into a different world behind like the entry to a fairy tale.

Viktor&Rolf-Upside Down Store - Milan

Viktor&Rolf-Upside Down Store – Milan

Inversion: An even more literal take on the fairy tale this entire store was build upside down.

Camper New York

Camper New York

Repetition: An iconic products defines the whole environment.

Pop up store LVMH

Pop up store LVMH

Villa Moda - Dubai

Villa Moda – Dubai

Texture: Color pattern desorient and define the geometry of the space.

das brot - wolfsburg

das brot – wolfsburg

Ad absurdum: The unexpected use of roofing material on the inside.

Zeferino - Sao Paolo

Zeferino – Sao Paolo

Proportions: The distortion of the proportions creates an extreme spatial feel.

MAC Cosmetics New York

MAC Cosmetics New York

Unexpected behavior: Architectural elements peel away, destabilizing the environment.

despresso_081010_01-630x420 copy

despresso – New York

Illusion: The space has seemingly been rotated to the side.

Maison-Martin-Margiela-Miami-Image-courtesy-of-Bill-Wisser copy 2

Maison Magiela – Miami

Stage set: Fake doors & paper thin walls show an unreal setting.

Godiva - Tokyo

Godiva – Tokyo

Fairy Tale Effects

It is with such tools that designers can create memorable results which provoke internal reflection and intellectual engagements that create discussion, criticism and attention, all aspects that a brand would normally wish for.

 

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

the importance of the experience

Human perception is built from experiences. Experience as a general concept comprises knowledge of or skill of some thing or some event gained through involvement in or exposure to that thing or event. The word “experience” may refer to mentally unprocessed immediately perceived events.One may also differentiate between physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and virtual experiences.

images

For all matter the experience is directly connected to the emotional memory imprint we take a way from a lived situation and therefore of essence when pre-defined to achieve the goal of connecting a human to a specific situation, space, object or story.

When we design spaces, whether they are for residential or commercial purposes, we are setting the stage for the experiences that will happen to people, who will be using them. In the case of a theater the stage is exactly tailored to the story of the play with the goal to support or even enhance the story.

Retail, for example, is not much different. The more defined the story is, the more specific the space can be designed to enhance it. It is therefore essential to successful retail design to go beyond space and furniture planning, to a place, where the story, that will be told, is defined primarily.What good is a pretty store if the story is not told well and no emotions evoked?

images-3

The story, that defines the brand, is ultimately what will drive the experience the brand wants their consumers to have.

At omni//form we have developed this process over years.We story board,animate or write out the experience. It involves a deeper understanding of human behavior, trends and fads in various cultural context. We try to think like the people, who will use our designs and research their likings, preferences, habits and rituals. For that we constantly update our global consciousness of cultural and sociological developments and trends. It allows us to create a vision around the scenarios that we have to accommodate and gives us a leading principle to the design development.

I believe that good design starts with interest for its user. It emerges out of consideration to create experiences that leave a positive emotional memory. That is what will make everyone return for more.

images-1

who do YOU think could improve their retail experience? – leave us a note.

regis pean + omni//form is a strategic architecture and design firm creating
experience based design around the world

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

merchandising strategy for multi brand environments

There are many different ways and strategic rules about store merchandising.

The food industry has probably best mastered product placement to maximize productivity through consideration in ergonometrics, easy of product access, visibilities, category management, adjacencies and shelf life as can be found in every better food market around the world. We can learn a lot from these strategies.

the leading example

the leading example
food merchandising

The human factor plays the most important role. In the end the products are to be sold to us humans and we have certain constraints in where we can reach, what we can see. We usually shop with an underlying need. Most consumers in a store are either looking for a specific type item or they browse to find a solution to a need (like a gift for someone or a dress for a night out or a hunt for a suitable accessory). In the professional world we call these “consumer need states” and I think that these serve really well as merchandising strategies.

Specifically in a multi-brand environment. A classic way of merchandising such a floor would be to give each brand its own space. Think of a department store and you can visualize how each brand has a dedicated area within its department. The problem with that is that it does not respond to the consumer need.

the traditional department store setup

the traditional department store setup

For example: A customer enters a department store’s men section with the need for a tuxedo. Every brand lives in its own silo, hence he is forced to look for the same item over and over again to compare as he moves from brand to brand. It is also difficult to compare choices as the various models he finds are not next to each other. Instead why not merchandise the floor according his need state? In this example it would be better to have all tuxedos together with all the accessories needed for a black tie event one area. Brands can still be sub-distinguished within that area to keep their identities. So the ties & bows, cuff links, shoes, belts all live adjacent to the tuxedos as it is done in supermarkets with pasta and pasta sauce.  It will not only make the consumer’s life easier, but he will also be more engaged to buy more because the whole “look” is laid out in front of him.

Or why is a customer, who comes for a blowout and style to the hair salon in the department store, not offered a makeup consultation or shown make up products at the same time to achieve a complete look? Or why can’t a business man, who looks to outfit his next business trip, find everything he would need to pack for in one place?

Shopping is partially entertainment today. To entertain we need to tell stories to people. Theme worlds are just that.  Customers will do much easier in a preset themed area than having to piece it together by themselves. So, while some stores have adapted such concepts, we wonder why such a setup cannot be found more often? Wouldn’t it make shopping in department stores so much more convenient and enjoyable?

merchandising themes (need states)

merchandising themes (need states)

regis pean + omni//form is a strategic design firm
with specialization in global retail concepts and roll-outs

http://www.omniform.us

Tagged , , , , , , ,

It starts with understanding the task.

You are looking for a designer ? You have written up your needs, a fact sheet or a brief and assembled some support documentation ready to send out, but how do you decide whom to go with when there are many choices with similar credentials?

The qualitative difference lies in the type of response to your request for proposal. A designer’s responsibility is to understand what his client really intends. To do that the good design partner will make the extra effort to evaluate both, the context you are coming from and what are you trying to achieve with the project –  in addition to the bare brief.

To really understand the task the designer must reach out to explore with his client who they are and what they do. That is true for individuals as much as for brands. What is the brand culture, who are the people behind it, what style do they promote, what fans do they attract, who is their target customer, what is the product all about and what is their point of differentiation from their competition? It is no different from a tailor taking your measures.

To make this process easier and more fun we typically prepare visual boards with specific questions, which we then answer in collaboration with a prospective client as shown in these examples below from a recent proposal.

omni//form brand story questionnaire

omni//form experience questionnaire

omni//form mood questionnaire

A committed designer would also want to know as much as possible about the context he will be working into such as, location specifics, traffic pattern, geographic orientation, adjacencies (specifically if there are competitors) and any restrictions. He would also want to learn about how the brand sees its product being accessed by its customer in store and other channels, as all of this is key to designing a functional (branded) environment. In the tailor’s analogy this would be discussing the fit, use and style.

This very first collaborative evaluation of the task is an instrumental step in defining a qualitative brief in the partnership between a designer and a client that will help to avoid misconceptions and shortcomings. Without this base work even aesthetically winning results will emerge outside of context and bear the risk to fail to often great surprise.

Tagged , , , , ,