Online purchasing at home in pyjamas has its charm, but there’s nothing like a real-life shopping spree to get inspiration flowing.
Increasingly, retailers are turning to interior architects and designers of renown to create unique boutique experiences which incarnate their brand.
“Our clients are really wanting us to explore how we can extend their brand language through materials and client experience,” says Melbourne interior designer Fiona Lynch.
“Whether at home or out shopping people want to experience design that is beautiful. Even if they’re in an work office or a hospital or a store, they don’t want to feel like they’re in a commercial environment.”
In Bed, MELBOURNE
Walking into In Bed‘s new retail space in Armadale is like walking into your friend’s home. And it’s been designed that way.
“It a space they want to explore and one they feel at home in,” describes the company’s founder and director, Pip Vassett of her desire for guests.
Tactility and a sense of “real-life” is core to the brand’s ethos and were a guiding force behind the inspiration for the store’s design. At 120sqm, it’s almost double the size of the Sydney boutique, and has been set up to echo the layout of a home.
Vintage pieces stand alongside the new, showcasing the brand’s love of material and distinct curative style. A large table crafted from reclaimed timber displays products produced by small-scale makers and is one of Pip’s favourite features of the space.
The warm palette throughout reflects the brand’s welcoming and friendly spirit. For a brand that champions substance, the space offers something an online experience simply can’t replicate.
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VIKTORIA & WOODS, MELBOURNE
Lynch’s Emporium Melbourne store for women’s fashion label Viktoria & Woods is as rigorously sensuous as the interiors she devises for her private clients.
A restrained material palette of pale terrazzo for the floors, dappled grey render walls and hewn timber fittings mean that texture and touch are primordial.
Generously draped curtains add quiet drama while a monolithic Corian sales desk says ‘slick’.
Raw-edged buttery leather benches speak to the beauty in simplicity – all elements evocative of the Viktoria & Woods spirit.
“We wanted to create a warm and inviting space for the customer, reflecting the brand’s clean and minimal aesthetic,” says Lynch.
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“There’s a subtle nod to Japanese design philosophy where there is a perfect balance of simplicity and the unexpected.”
BEC + BRIDGE, BONDI JUNCTION
“We didn’t just sit down and start designing a store,” Livissianis explains. “We spent quite a bit of time with them, breaking down their brand to get a thorough understanding of their DNA and then built it back together as a physical space.
“We looked at a lot of the references they use when shooting their campaigns and realised that so many of them are shot outside, beachside, in colonnades, on terraces.”
And so the flagship Bec + Bridge boutique in Westfield Bondi Junction is paved in creamy bricks in a chunky herringbone formation, the ceiling has been dropped to create barrel vaulting, arced mirrors are suspended to extend a sense of perspective.
These formal architectural elements are finished in gentle shell pink and offset by undulating drapes – the savvy mix of structure and fluidity an apt interpretation of the brand’s allure.
Livissianis is a maestro of mood, the man behind some of Sydney’s signature eateries – Cho Cho San, Apollo and Chin Chin among them – and understands that the right lighting is key to the feelgood factor.
At Bec + Bridge he has concealed all light sources behind the rolling ceiling, allowing it to wash gentle shadows across the room, mimicking daylight in the depths of a shopping mall.
Lighting is primordial, too, in the new Aje store in Perth’s upmarket Claremont Quarter shopping centre. Melbourne studio We Are Triibe created a floating ceiling from behind which lighting bathes the space in an ethereal glow.
At the rear of the room three tall, slender archways draw in the eye, their arcs obliquely inclined to create an illusion of extra depth.
Finished in textured concrete render, they are as dramatic as a de Chirico streetscape of Torino.
“The store is a buffet of tactile materials,” says Christina Symes, one half of We Are Triibe. “Aje’s aesthetic is light, white and natural,” says the other half, Jessica D’Abadie.
“And we interpreted those attributes by layering Japanese ceramics, natural stone, Italian travertine.”
Deployed on the facade and floor and as display shelving, Triibe chose travertine in the truly appetising shade of creamed honey.
“Don’t underestimate what you can do with your space,” urged Chris Sanderson of UK trend agency Future Laboratory at their Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute Retail Summit in September 2017.
“For many consumers, the physical store is still a key place to provide a memorable experience and service.”
Clever interior designers do that by integrity of concept and rigour of execution – but also by the addition of a little je ne sais quoi, a playful flaunting of their design savvy.
At Viktoria & Woods, Lynch incorporates bespoke quartz crystal, brass and tubular LED wall sconces by Melbourne lighting maestro Christopher Boots to add a sculptural edge to the space.
Livissianis installed rare 1970s lucite chairs by Charles Hollis Jones (re-upholstered in Icelandic sheepskin) to the Bec + Bridge store – and designed a one-off lucite console to match.
Flack Studio designed custom wall sconces for In Bed’s Melbourne boutique, and sourced vintage pieces to give the space its own unreplicable personality.
We Are Triibe appropriated copper piping to create bespoke clothes racks for the Aje store, leaving it untreated to allow patination over time. Memorable brick-and-mortar moments all.