Contract - November 2013 - (Page 12)
pHoto: Meg Walton
Designing for Brand and Beauty
You can purchase almost anything you need online without leaving
your home or going to a specific store. Shopping is a task we now
complete by using a computer or mobile device anywhere or anytime.
Do we look up from a screen? Do we still window shop? Do we still
patronize stores in person?
Well, the answer is yes. But the participatory act of shopping
is evolving thanks to the ease of online retail. Therefore, design is
of paramount importance to the in-person experience. We kept this
in mind as we produced this issue, which features excellent retail
interiors, including the Stuart Weitzman Milan flagship (page 44)
by Zaha Hadid Architects, as well as a special feature on an exquisite
Parisian restaurant (page 56). Taken together, the projects illustrate
that great interior design enhances the customer's experience of
a brand. That, in turn, served as inspiration for the tagline of this
issue-Brand and Beauty.
Design matters, and place matters. Companies are increasingly
aware of how the power of an experience relates to a purchase, which
is why websites alone often don't cut it. The in-person experience
of shopping in a brick-and-mortar store is not going away, but it is
certainly changing. A recent article from analytics service provider Mu
Sigma succinctly describes the fundamental raison d'être of brick-andmortar stores: "Retailers would do well to realize that customers do not
always shop to just acquire products. They often shop to gratify other
deeper needs-a need to engage all five senses, to socialize and to
commune, and at times to simply be out in public."
On and near Boston's trendy Newbury Street shopping
promenade, retailers known primarily for their online presence-
Bonobos, Warby Parker, and suitmaker Blank Label-have recently
opened shops. Why? The store is a means for the brand to present
itself and its value proposition, and for customers to understand the
full breadth of offerings in one location.
Another example of what one could call "showroom reverse" is
Best Buy, which is devoting space in its stores to high-profile brands
such as Microsoft, Samsung, and Apple in a department store model.
In its U.S. stores, Best Buy has launched 500 Microsoft Windows shops
within shops, with sleek white display tables set on a hardwood floor.
With this shop-in-shop concept, Best Buy is attempting to change the
consumer proposition by establishing the website as the showroom,
and enticing people to then come to the store to make a purchase.
If you've been to an Apple store-and chances are you have-
you understand the concept of a store as a public gathering space.
More people now visit one of Apple's 400-plus stores in a three-month
period than visit Disney's four largest theme parks in a whole year,
according to data from the Themed Entertainment Association. Design
is essential to Apple, and we recognize the modern interior of each
store-a carefully crafted assemblage of glass windows with a back-lit
Apple logo, stone floors, interior stainless steel walls, and wood display
tables-as a backdrop for the products within.
And Apple understands that that it cannot rest on its past
success. The first Apple stores are now more than 10 years old, and an
experience that was once considered fresh and innovative at the turn
of the century may seem-to a new generation of young shoppers-to
be run-of-the-mill and expected. Just last month, Apple hired Angela
Ahrendts, who had transformed a stuffy Burberry brand, to be its new
senior vice president of retail. She is charged to, in essence, further
reshape and refine Apple's physical and online retail efforts to be
simpatico, and the impact will likely have a ripple effect on broader
retail interior architecture trends.
If you are interested in learning more about designing for brand
experience, see the article "Bricks Over Clicks: Enhancing the In-Person
Shopping Experience by Design" (page 62) by Caleb Mulvena, a
principal at the firm Mapos, who outlines key examples of how design
can be utilized to positively influence brand identity.
Enjoy this issue, and consider how your design work synthesizes
brand and beauty.
John Czarnecki, assoc. aia, Hon. iida
editor in Chief
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Contract - November 2013
Contract - November 2013
Columnist: Implementing an Ownership Transition: I Built a Firm—So How Do I Get Out?
Highlights from HD Americas
Breakthrough Design at 100% Design in London
Product Focus: Beyond the Plank
Product Focus: Hands-On Shopping
U.N. North Delegates’ Lounge
Stuart Weitzman Milan Flagship
Marc Jacobs Beauty
Bricks Over Clicks: Enhancing the In-Person Shopping Experience by Design
Designers Select: Tables and Casegoods
Small Project: A Sales Gallery Previews Zaha Hadid’s 62-Story Condo Tower in Miami
Contract - November 2013