Amsterdam – Think about your last optical experience. Was it friendly? Warm? Or as the Dutch would say, gezellig? Those may not be the first descriptors you’d think of when it comes to any medical service, but changing that has been the core mission of Amsterdam-based eyewear brand Ace & Tate.
That explains why the brand re-opened its Van Woustraat flagship only three years after its creation. The first Amsterdam location was first opened as a pop-up in June 2015, and has led to the company’s impressive growth with over 35 stand-alone stores in Europe. Now, the company imagines the re-born space, designed by Pepijn Smit of local design studio S-p-a-c-e Projects, as a ‘retail lab’: a place where they can experiment, and enable customers to experience features that may later be incorporated into other stores as they grow. It’s all part of the brand’s evolutionary omnichannel model.
The outside façade of the shop provided a good place to start with the experimentation: it immediately differentiates itself from the environs, putting forth a stark white tiled exterior that contrasts with the beloved red brick Amsterdam is known for.
There’s another point of differentiation: a ‘vending machine’ – really a 24/7 service point for returns – on the street front is powered by a proprietary QR code reading to process the transaction. Eventually, Ace & Tate hopes to extend the feature to offer pick-up for customers who have bought glasses online. Ironically, the Dutch fast-food company Febo is just across the street, well-known since the 1940’s for enabling diners to retrieve their premade meals from similar machines – the team jokes that a collaboration could be in order.