A ‘journey to the outer reaches of scent’ at London’s Selfridges department store explores the future of retail design through a sensory customer experience, writes Ola Bednarczuk.
June 5th, 2014
A collaboration between interior design studio Campaign, trend forecasters The Future Laboratory and perfumiers Givaudan has brought an experiential contemporary apothecary to the storefront of London department store Selfridges.
The Fragrance Lab takes shopping for perfume to a new level, inviting customers to explore their personalities and preferences to find the scent that best represents them – whilst taking them on a nostalgic journey incorporating all the senses.
Visitors are invited into a pristine white laboratory-like space, where they are handed an iPad and asked to respond to a series of images and questions designed to analyse their aesthetic tastes, buying behaviours and decision-making processes. Then, with the help of an audio-guide led by an enigmatic character identifying himself as ‘the shopkeeper’, they take a journey through a sequence of spaces designed to evoke nostalgia, heighten the senses and increase their awareness of how they react to what’s around them. At the end of the journey they are presented with their very own Givaudan perfume, which best matches their character based on the decisions made throughout their experience.
The Fragrance Lab is the second collaboration between Campaign and the Future Laboratory, in a series of projects designed to draw on the retail design talents of the former and the consumer insight and trend expertise of the latter. Each of the evocative spaces and experiences the visitor goes through is designed to feel other-worldly and magical, with the ultimate purpose of gaining vital information about the visitor to aid the creation of their signature scent.
It’s an ambitious project for a department store to commission, and one which shows a real interest on behalf of Selfridges to explore the possibilities a retail space can offer in a digital age. At a time when online retail is perceived as a growing threat to the physical store, Fragrance Lab is a fascinating look at how digital elements, when combined with consumer insight, clever design and personalised service, can provide a tailored, unique customer experience that results in a bespoke product.
The Future Laboratory
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