Tag Archives: strategic planning

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.

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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

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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MAC Cosmetics / New York

 

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

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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?

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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.

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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

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Here is an excellent example on how good creative design solutions can make all the difference in retail.

omniform for objet carpet in zurich

Selling carpets is a challenging business. Samples take up a lot of retail space so that retailers are forced to either rent large surfaces or store them in classifier systems such as pull-out frames, drawers, or shelving, which do not exhibit their goods well to their customers. It requires a sales person to pre-select samples and never gives an overview of the entire gamut. This little store, I spotted in Zürich recently, is defined by a long and narrow foot print, which would have made it even harder to fit in traditional large storage/display systems for their carpet samples.

The designers found a stunning solution to the problem:  By rolling up the samples and storing them in a grid of wall slots the designers did not have to take away much of the depth of the already narrow store. It cleverly allows for customers to get a full overview of the product line, while being able to touch and feel the product (a necessity when it comes to carpets).

The ingenious idea though is the decision to keep the entire store front unobstructed, exposing the whole showroom to the outside and turning the sample display walls into window displays. By framing the store front window in addition the designers created a powerful display. Accent lighting sets the product display walls in contrast to a reduced monochromatic black and white interior allowing for the product to be the hero on display.

The designers understood well how to take advantage of the long narrow space, the large vitrine and the location. No coincidence that there is a traffic light not far from the store forcing cars to stop right in front of the vitrine on a red light.

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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

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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!

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