15 Dec 2017 • Ace & Tate
Top-Hit Trend of 2017: Retail goes invisibly digital and boldly physical
Our readers’ choice of retail spaces in 2017 reveal the polar ways in which brands reconcile ever-increasing digital technology with tangible in-store experiences. From enhancing customer service with integrated online platforms to applying unusual materials for a unique visual and tactile experience, some retailers are embracing the digital age while others rely on analogue but unconventional designs to make a dramatic visual impact that will appeal to shoppers.
Online-first retailer Ace & Tate provides a quintessential example of a digital business manifesting a physical presence to match its brand identity. By embracing industrial materials and pops of colour, Ace & Tate Eindhoven marries the in-store experience with a social space, applying a modern aesthetic composed of metal grid installations dispersed throughout the concrete-lined interior.
Earlier this year, Nespresso debuted its digitally integrated concept store in Cannes. The coffee retailer implemented a unique customer service strategy that utilizes embedded digital tools to eliminate queues, resulting in fewer checkout counters and other traditional retail installations that divide employees and consumers. Additional aspects of the store – such as a garden designed to mimic the ecology of a coffee plantation, and art and furniture composed of recycled Nespresso materials – relate the interior to the product, physically grounding visitors in the brand.
Fluffy candy-coloured foam lines the wall of this Opening Ceremony pop-up store by Patrik Ervell. Ervell employs a surprising material – fibreglass insulation – to add intrigue to the temporary structure. The luscious pink wall redraws the boundary between function and aesthetic, with a bold retail installation that inspired Opening Ceremony to design a piece of clothing in response.
Speaking of bold retail installations, the Hills Avenue flagship store in Tokyo employs a multilevel floor-to-ceiling display system which makes the merchandise appear to float in mid-air. Designed by Tokujin Yoshioka, the irregular and ethereal arrangement and sleek minimal aesthetic is an eye-catcher from the street, attracting passersby night and day.
Artist Sigrid Calon transforms Uniqlo’s 5th Avenue location with a bold application of abstract art, imbuing the 8,300-sq-m retail space with her computerized graphics. Covering multistorey columns in the store’s entrance as well as many other surfaces, the pattern changes depending on the viewer’s perspective and interacts with the products by guiding visitors to various collections. Its temporary nature merges art installation with traditional retail and brings a unique site-specific quality to the apparel brand.
Find out what trends emerged from the most popular hospitality and workspace interiors in 2017 here.