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6 ways design is reviving physical retail

As much as we love trawling Asos and eBay, there are occasions where the physical retail experience outdoes the digital. Discover how these six retail spaces have created a shopping experience that excels offline.

6 ways design is reviving physical retail


August 1st, 2014

Above: Fragrance Lab, London

1. Create an open and inviting space

Aesop, Balmain, Design: Henry Wilson

A bakery in its previous life, this heritage sandstone building has been left bare. Original detailing is highlighted by natural illumination and the space is populated by simple, industrial furniture. The open plan encourages customers to browse the beautifully displayed products, with free samples and knowledgeable staff creating a generous, welcoming environment.

2. Make a spectacle

T2, London, Design: Landini Associates

The main attraction at T2’s first international store is the quasi-acrobatic tea show. Set in the bar-style brewing station, the performance alone merits a visit. Unlike its Australian counterparts, the brand’s English outpost has been stripped of the polish typically seen in T2 stores to create a gritty, industrial aesthetic.

3. Celebrate your brand’s values

Birkenstock HQ, Melbourne, Design: Melbourne Design Studio

 With a 230 year tradition of making high quality shoes from natural materials and minimal waste, Birkenstock were sustainable long before it was cool. The design of their Melbourne head quarters reflects this, with passive climate control, minimal artificial light, upcycled materials (e.g. galley trolleys cum filing units) and solar panels creating an ecosystem aligned with the Birkenstock’s philosophy.

4. Provide the best of both worlds

Sneakerboy, Melbourne, Design: March Studio

Originally launched as an online store, Sneakerboy has since complemented its virtual presence with physical destinations where customers can try shoes before buying them online. This novel approach to pairing a website with brick and mortar offers customers tangible browsing pleasure and sizing confidence alongside the economy and efficiency of the online model

5. Keep it fresh

Kloke Store, Melbourne, Design: Sibling Nation

Kloke is keeping traditional brick and mortar retail alive. Kloke’s three-dimensional grid allows the cube storage to be reconfigured. This allows a consumer to have a unique experience every time they enter the store.

6. Enhance your customers’ senses

Fragrance Lab, London, Design: Campaign & the Future Laboratory

Fragrance Lab provides the customer with not only a bespoke product but a unique multi-sensual experience, showing an alternative to traditional and online shopping. Using character analysis technology (on an iPad app) and other olfactory tests, a tailored perfume is developed. The mystical yet scientific design of the space and extraordinary customer service from trained scent specialists creates a unique, total retail journey.

Words: Frances Fewster

Design: Henry Wilson

Design: Landini Associates 

Design: Melbourne Design Studios

esign: March Studio

Design: Sibling Nation

Fragrance Lab @ Selfridges
Design: Campaign & the Future Laboratory


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