Tag Archives: retail

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
Advertisements
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 , , , ,

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 , , , ,

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 future of retailing?

I like the beginning of a new year. It is a time of reflection when we look back at what went right or wrong last year and make resolutions for the year to come. It is a time for dreams, setting out new goals and finding opportunity for innovation. What can be more positive than that?

Reviews and predictions are to find everywhere these days and as head of a creative agency who is always confronted with the expectation of bringing innovative solutions to our projects I ask myself:

what is the future of retail?

Here are my own few predictions for 2013:

1. shopping is more than ever becoming a lifestyle.

With product offering split between the real and the virtual world the actual retail experience in a store will concentrate much more on the service and interaction with the sales professional than the product purchase itself. Product stock may slowly disappear from select retail stores in favor of online ordering and they will change into show room type spaces, where social media come to life. People who shop similar brands have a commonality. Retail space will be used for social interaction, giving brand aficionados a platform to compare and exchange their passions about the brands they adore. Many retailers have already started “club memberships” to foster such trends. Service staff will need to be trained to initiate and assist this scenario to create memorable real life experiences with strong emotional connections.

2.Product stock may slowly disappear from retail spaces.

Customer like to get a deal and they are savvy. The best way to check where to find a product for the best price and get recommendations is online. Customers may not come to buy necessarily any longer, but to test and compare product in real and experience the brand. Then they buy it online later, where they sometimes can find a better deal. So the retail environment becomes the brand ambassador and must deliver the lifestyle promise of the brand. Retail spaces will be places,where customers will be educated on products, test and evaluate. Orders can be made on site but product will be shipped directly to the house. No need to carry out any longer. No need to stock much product. Justifying increasingly expensive sft prices stock space will be converted to valuable branded consumer front space.

3.Registers will slowly disappear.

As the act of immediate buying will not be the main purpose of a retail environment, cash registers will slowly disappear in favor of mobile devices, which will allow the sales person to place orders and no-cash transactions at any time during the experience in the showroom and have product shipped to the customer’s home (following the model that Apple stores pioneered).

4.Product immersion will be favored.

Product immersion will be the new focus. Showrooms are defined by the act of testing and handling a product. Sample product will be available for customers to try out before a purchase. All product is displayed for test use. Touching and trying a product gets a customer hooked faster.

5.Smart environments backed by big data.

Retail environments will be backed by data knowledge. Big data collection on consumer behavior will play an important role in direct marketing and play out in store increasingly. Retailers are already able to send personalized messages to customer’s mobile devices, guiding them to their favorite brands and items. Proximity sensors will allow brands to send support information on smart phones, when customers are present in stores or interact with a product. Digital signage will adjust  content when a customer is nearby. Sensors will “recognize” a customer, her likes, favorites and aspirations with individual data sets built from shopping histories combined with  social media profiling.What sounded like sci-fi a few years ago is available technology today that will show up increasingly in the retail world.

I believe that there lies a great future ahead for retailers, brands and creatives, who

1.are willing to think out-of-the-box

2.embrace the sociological changes social media and online shopping are bringing to the physical world

3.don’t miss to make adjustments to physical environments, staffing and service offering.

These are my thoughts on the immediate future of retailing.

I would like to open this up to a conversation and would love to hear other predictions.

Tagged , , , , , ,

connecting retail

When iconic hair company Bumble and bumble came to us with the request to re-imagine their founding flagship salon in New York their focus was on including a strong retail element into their offering. It was clear that the retail space had to be at the front of the store so it could be seen and accessed directly from the street independently of the salon hours. What makes Bumble and bumble so exciting is their artistry and creativity. So we were looking for a way to let this energy transcend into the retail space and at the same time not hide the salon behind retail and away from the street view.

The answer was to separate the two entities by a semi open retail partition that would function simultaneously as a product display wall. See-through and “woven” together by an abstraction of hair texture, which then became the theme throughout the salon design, these retail walls define the new retail area at the entry of the salon and are now iconic elements of the Bumble design language.

www.omniform.us

The re-imagined Bumble and bumble salon by regis pean+omni//form

the new retail area and the salon are both visible from the outside

Retail foyer of Bumble and bumble re-imagined by regis pean+omni//form

the see-through display wall forms the retail foyer of the
re-imagined Bumble and bumble salon

regis pean+omni//form for Bumble and bumble New York Uptown

hair textures abstractions throughout the Bumble and bumble salon

cut floor Bumble and bumble New York uptown re-imagine by regis pean+omni//form

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Moving the crowds- strategic planning_part 3

In my previous post “Leading the way!” I wrote about how strategic “attractors” can help pull the customers through space by providing a sequence of stimuli throughout the experience. Today I want to look at how care needs to be given equally to the layout of the path.

We believe that a store layout is more favorable when it allows for a customer journey without repetition.

Creating a round trip experience will keep the attraction and interest levels up. As they move through a choreographed sequence of experiences they will not realize their way through the store, unless the way is experienced backwards, even for some parts. The repeated path is usually without value for the retailer as the customer will have the impression “to already have seen it” and likely expedite their way through that area without any interest or interaction with a product.

A good example to this theory are IKEA stores. They have driven this idea to a point where it is impossible to turn back without loosing orientation. So customers are almost forced to complete the journey if they want to ever see daylight again.

IKEA store layout and customer path

The negative aspect of taking it this far is that not every customer possesses the same attention span and not being able to exit when you want can create adverse impressions and annoyance. IKEA may get some impulse sales out of a disoriented customer but the experience won’t have a positive perception. (see related article in “Daily Telegraph”) The journey should be offered, not forced.

Below is the layout plan of our store example from the previous blog – a jewelry store omni//form designed for the French brand Mauboussin in Singapore. We have mapped possible journeys from the main entrance as well as the secondary but equally important VIP drive way.

<omni//form for Mauboussin in Singapore>
customer journey mapping
red main, blue VIP

Even though the store is relatively small, it is organized to allow for a customer round trip with attractors setup along the entire journey.

Not every space configuration will necessarily allow for a comfortable round trip journey. Small retail stores very often are narrow and long. The trick is to get the customer to explore the entire space offering by setting up an attractor or a functional area at the very end of the space. When we designed retail stores for MAC Cosmetics with such conditions, we usually set up an attractor at the deep end of space .

This could be a stimulating light element, such as a large light box visual or video screen since humans tend to walk towards light in darker environments. Alternatively we would locate the cash register all the way in the back, so that we could be sure that the customer see the entire store offering before check-out.

A round trip journey can also be created by simply introducing island displays, if the space allows.

<regis pean for MAC Cosmetics in New York>
video screen at the end of the space as a far sight attractor
and island displays to encourage round trip journeys

<regis pean for MAC Cosmetics in Los Angeles>
light source and cash register at the end of space
island displays encourage non repetitive paths

<regis pean for MAC Cosmetics in Tokyo>
wall gestures and displays lead around the corner guiding customers through the space

store designs by omni//form, inc

www.omniform.us

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leading the way

It is no secret that in store design way guiding is of utmost importance.  There is a whole science behind when and how customers make relevant decisions and what way they are taking through stores. The way customers navigate a store can not be left to coincidence even though all research and studies can never prescribe all the possible options a customer path can have. Because the goal is to get a customer interested, excited and emotionally connected to your brand to buy your product you have not yet won by bringing them into the store only. You must keep them interested all along the way.

As strategic planners for retail environments we follow a simple rule that has given us much success: we build a sequence of visual attractors throughout the store that pull the customer through the space. Visual stimulants are created to keep the interest up and raise the emotions when detected. They play with the ideas of discovery in the sense that the customer is seduced to come and see it from close up. They must be easily detectable, so ideally setup by themselves in high contrast. Lighting plays a big role in making them stand out from the crowd. When setup as multiples in sequence, it creates a controlled physical movement through space.

Here are a few examples of such attractors from a jewelry store for the french brand Mauboussin omni//form designed in Singapore, which we can use as an example for demonstration purposes:

first impression
a “wow” moment in the entry

Important is the first point of interest to engage the customer in the journey. If visible through the entrance door it can also create the most important customer movement: entering the store. In this example a big statement was created with a cascading chandelier  (light and height support the concept of attention grabbing) over product displays to create interest from outside in and lead the customer on a discovery path. Before they know they are engaged into the choreographed experience through the store.

“what’s back here”?
finish and lighting contrast boost the effect of the passage

“what’s in there”?
Treasure box display provocatively opened to invite viewing

“what am I looking at”?
intriguing mirror effects demand for understanding

“relief”!
inviting moments to relax

store design by omni//form, inc

www.omniform.us

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Get them in! strategic planning_part 1

One of the most important questions for every shop owner is: how do I get customers to come into my shop? I would like to analyze two very different strategic approaches on how a storefront design can support a potential customers decision.

The first storefront example is the one of the stores omni//form designed for French jeweler “Mauboussin” in Singapore (see previous post for more on that store).

First we took a very atypical approach to the storefront by making it floor-to-ceiling glass. Jewelry stores are usually closed off or “shielded” to convey secured value and provide privacy to a customer, who is ready to spend money. This brand’s aim is to deconstruct that old fashioned notion and instead to reposition itself as being fashionable, young and accessible. The openness of the facade is the first tactic to convey this message.

The second tactic is the logo. It’s the far communicator. Its size is readable from across the street. It sits on a bar that not only illuminates it for better reading but that also guides the eye to the entrance door. The logo acts as an underlined title to the display window area below.

Next is the store front content, which is structured in 3 layers or tactics:

1-The immediate window display plays on the notion of discovery. Open displays -“treasure boxes”- are setup for discovery and tease the viewer with select merchandise. They are internally lit and thus each create a highlight that draws attention.

2-The feather curtain acts as a back drop to the window displays to isolate them out of the interior context but simultaneously allows a peek into the vestibule of the boutique because of its sheer quality. The space behind is conceived around a central cascading chandelier fixture over product displays, which serves as focal point. This visual magnet can be “previewed” from outside to generate interest and desire to enter and explore.

3-The interior of the store can be glimpsed at from outside through two openings from the vestibule. This is crucial for a jewelry store that would typically suffer from what I call “threshold angst” as a hesitance to enter in fear of being engaged with an environment that does not suit the customer’s financial status. In this case the guard is down and customers can see what it is like inside, deconstructing the angst upfront. It also re-enforces the notion of an all inclusiveness supporting the brand message of accessibility.

The overall theme for this design was accessibility and discovery in a attempt to recruit a broader customer range.

A very contrary example to this is a store front we designed years earlier before the brand decided to change its positioning. This store was built in New York, on Madison Avenue. The aim was to convey exclusivity and a secure environment for precious goods. It was in line with the expected customer in this neighborhood, where the most exclusive stores settle and people come to spend money.

regis pean+omni//form strategic planning example

Here the logo was reduced to a decent hint to communicate exclusivity.

The storefront communicates a curated selection of merchandise but does not offer additional layered information.  The inside of the boutique remains an experience to explore for the ones who dare or belong.

The entrance is marked by a bright and sparkling opening in the otherwise dark store front.  Full glass doors offer a peek into a glitzy vestibule, which leads the way to the real entrance door further in. The passing of two door thresholds was introduced to re-enforce the ideas of safety and privacy.

The shop window displays draw attention similar to the first example. Bright lights create contrast and highlights for the eyes to fall on. Brand iconic treasure boxes are opened up for discovery. Here is where the brand communicates its offering. But additional information is very limited: cropped openings in the back drop around the displays allow for a peek into the vestibule behind and the ones, who look carefully through the center opening, as it aligns with the entrance door behind, are rewarded with a peek into the boutique. The goal was to  raise interest and desire to explore the tease. The theme in this example plays on intriguing luxury for the Madison Avenue customer.

Both examples show how strategic design tactics can create very opposite effects while achieving the same goal: to get customers into the store!

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Inspiring!

When it comes to retail concepts, few brands create spaces as diverse and conceptual as Camper and Aesop. Both brands, though fundamentally different in their origins and sales offerings, showcase a strong affinity to design. Design plays an instrumental role in the consumer experience of their brand.  Choosing design innovation as a life style that applies not only to their product allows them to push the envelope for unique solutions with every new store they open. In addition it is to note that Aesop often uses recycled materials or packaging elements creatively in new context. What makes it special is the fact that they team with independent designers (often locals reflecting best on local context) in creating shop concepts, ensuring each is totally unique in its setting in opposition to the trend of global uniformity.

Here are some of their most remarkable designs.-Truly inspirational!

 aesop paris

 aesop paris 2

 aesop melbourne

 aesop brisbane

 aesop singapore

 aesop strand arcade

 aesop brisbane 2

 aesop new york grand central

 aesop new york nolita

 camper vienna

 camper london

 camper lyon

 camper granada

 camper new york

 camper san francisco

 camper sevilla

 camper osaka

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,