Here’s the latest ‘Ask Alison’ guest post from retail expert and DRG contributor, ALISON BISHOP, on how brands are merchandising their store environments to inspire customers to feel at home
More and more digital brands want to lay down physical roots and create their own permanent stores. At the same time, retailers are ramping up online sales initiatives for increasingly digitally savvy shoppers. So now we have the trend to make showroom-style spaces resemble highly curated homes and apartments. Which makes us want to buy everything and move in.
The trend for homely retailing has evolved over the last year or so, kick-started by luxury players such as Louis Vuitton with its decadent Hong Kong L’Appartement by Andre Fu (below), and the personal shopping bachelor pad at Holt Renfrew’s new-men only Toronto flagship. After opening their relaxed, sun-drenched LA flagship, complete with outdoor pool, The Row are eyeing a similarly homely retail destination in NY’s Upper East Side, according to WWD. Ashley Olsen described the LA store as ‘about setting it up as a home and just having the apparel be a part of the space.’
BELOW: L’APPARTEMENT LOUIS VUITTON In HONG KONG
Stylists Vanessa Traina and Morgan Wendelborn set up US e-commerce site The Line in 2013 as a place to showcase their personal style across homeware, fashion and beauty products. They launched The Apartment (below), an airy Soho loft space, shortly after as a physical embodiment of the site, where customers can meet with the creatives behind labels stocked, and the pair host discussions, workshops and screenings. This form of curated, one-to-one apartment-style selling adds a valuable aesthetic layer to the online shopping experience, where customers are buying into a lifestyle not just a product range. Whistles has taken a similar approach, hosting its last two seasonal press days in penthouse lofts in London (below).
BELOW: THE APARTMENT BY THE LINE
BELOW: WHISTLES PRESS DAY
Alex Eagle is the eclectic curator behind Soho House’s newest retail location, The Store in Berlin (below). There is a stylish lifestyle edit with bit of everything on offer, from designer fashion and accessories, contemporary furniture, homewares and organic food from The Store Kitchen as well as beauty services from Barber & Parlour. It’s designed in the style of a relaxing, homely loft apartment with soft velvet sofas and ‘shabby luxe’ workstations next to the library of books and magazines provided by Idea Books. There’s a florist by Mary Lennox and music by The Vinyl Factory. Everything is set over the spacious ground floor of the Berlin hotel location. ‘I wanted the space to be an open, shoppable private home for everyone to hang out in,’ Eagle said to T Magazine. Suitcase Magazine has a great interview with Eagle where she talks about sourcing localised, new talent across the creative design industries.
BELOW: THE STORE IN BERLIN CURATED BY ALEX EAGLE
SHOWROOM MEETS EDITORIAL
The worlds of interiors, design and even real estate are utilising an editorial, stylised approach to sell furniture and homewares. For the newly renovated, but still off-plan central London Saint Martins Lofts scheme, gallerist and designer Marc Peredis has created a warm, minimalist show apartment, exclusively utilising pieces from artists represented in his Soho gallery, 19 Greek Street (below).
Dutch architecture & design magazine Frame created a 3D rendition of its pages at a pop-up shop in the Felix Meritis building for Amsterdam’s temporary cultural festival, Felix & Foam, in 2014 (below). The space, designed by Dutch studio i29, was intended to be a mirrored universe, using reflective surfaces to create a sensory, immersive shopping experience. Frame curated a mix of new talent from the design world, showcased in modernist room sets, set against the grand backdrop of the building’s 18th architecture. In a similar project last year, German online magazine Freunde von Freunden (FvF) furnished a Berlin flat as part of a 3D editorial project for Swiss furnishings manufacturer Vitra (below and top).
BELOW: SAINT MARTINS LOFTS BY MARC PEREDIS
BELOW: FRAME POP-UP AT FELIX & FOAM
BELOW: FREUNDE VON FREUNDEN APARTMENT FOR VITRA
DINING AT HOME
The idea of curating an ‘at home’ experience is also represented by restaurants, where patrons buy into the vision of the chef as much as the food. At my favourite new restaurant and bar, Old Tom & English in London’s Soho, interior designer Lee Broom has created a décor very much an ode to British decadence from a bygone era. The idea was to replicate a 1960s living room, where diners come to join an intimate cocktail party and stay for nibbles.
Danish restaurant Noma in Copenhagen is currently having some time-out from serving food, instead focusing on translating its worldwide reputation into a retail experience. Earlier this year it opened a shoppable pop-up store in Tokyo, selling locally made tableware and furniture in collaboration with Japanese designer and creative director Sonya Park of Arts&Science. And last month, US retailer Club Monaco moved into Noma’s original Copenhagen space for a curated offering of its men’s and womenswear collections as well as local New York-based furniture and homeware designs and vintage collectibles from around the world (below).
BELOW: CLUB MONACO IN COPENHAGEN
ASK ALISON: WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
Designing retail or restaurant spaces that replicate a home environment takes customers a step closer to imagining a selection of curated products in their own living space. Plus, it’s the perfect antidote to 2D online shopping, making the most of physical presence and tactility as an emotional retail experience.