Friday, July 20, 2012

New Dimensions in Retail Design: Art as an enabler

Sanjay Agarwal, FRDC.   New York , July 2012

My recent trips to few destinations in US and in particular New York have left me wondering: does retail design follow any trends? Or, is it something which retailers/designers are trying to express differently or to catch attention of customers? In both the cases one sees plenty of visual clutter on one hand and ‘similarities’ on other. In this trip I was always trying to observe what are mid-level brands trying to do things differently than upper-level brands and vice versa. And as one says-“if retail is an ocean, one who can swim across is always the winner, and others keep trying their acrobats and actions but remain in water”.
In the above context, where one always sees realms of architectural expression being always broken by luxury retailers, this time it was good to see ‘art’ being used as a medium of ‘differentiator’ and as an ‘enabler’ for many of top brands one comes across. Art has always inspired all of us and it has appealed us in all forms. The creative expression of same was found in many ways in Retail Theater, facade, interiors, materials, display and VM etc. Good thing is that material industry is also supporting the same one came across various vendors and agencies who are transforming their products more in line with such demand. So do we say –‘technology’ has short lived for retail? I will still think technology is not when it comes for ‘visual’ engagement. It’s a tactile magic woven by colors, art forms and other visual elements which bind customers. Technology is an enabler and few retailers have smartly learned that.
Installations in windows as depicted above in Max Mara store compels a visitor to move left and right of window to see the effect!
The use of basic materials like screens are the latest inclusion within windows and interiors as depicted here in Ferragamo and Barneys store especially with Women merchandise. It reminds of ‘thin mesh’ screens one is used to see in historic monuments. It weaves natural ‘hide and seek’ phenomena.
The articulation of surfaces in an artistic form is often seen as a language being used by designer to be more ‘communicative’ within the same realms of materials. Louis Vuitton and Anthropologies demonstrates them from display to façade.
High street feel factor and use of creative color combination/materials/light play within façade framework by brands like VS and others form an interesting example for one to see the emergence of such installations within Malls and thus breaking a monotonous glass look one often sees here.
The use of technology as a medium of ‘collaborative’ engagement within realms of arts is seen more often with retailers like Union, DWS using it to extremes.
Democratic brands like Uniqlo and Joy to Fresh are using artistic expressions within their stores to create an aspirational environment and thus retaining their position on same streets where big brothers line up with their clout of ‘brand’.
Art patterns and motifs within customer touch points and customer experience areas is more seen as a medium of one’s brand expression and customer engagement rather than an overstatement. Brands like Michael Kors and Anthropologie do it beautifully and consistently.
Installations to create façade more attractive and ‘stand out’ has given a new realm of design and art has found its way in one way or other. Juicy Couture has used this cleverly on their glass while Hollister uses heat of New York to its advantage by using screens with water waves and sounds and bare beach creation to get customers in.
Biggest surprise of the day was LV store on 5th avenue draped with Polka Dots theme. The façade usage to maximum drew customers in and inside celebration of Polka theme was breathtaking. Do we say –‘Luxury is more accessible now’?” At least façade designs says so
Brands like Forever 21 and Uniqlo have found a street smart way to be there ‘big’ and loud and the installations and creations of street environment and a ‘bling’ around brand has paid off.
Art found its way into display and mannequins and forms also and one saw how manufacturers are getting ready for this wave of Art. Window and inside display features are being designed using art as form and one sees how are they being blend in interior environment.
Written by Sanjay Agarwal, Director FRDC, Bangalore during his trip to New York and Detroit in July 2012. All expressions and views expressed are solely of writer.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Rahul Dravid launches Digital 1 for Viveks at Forum Mall !!

Indian Batting Wall Rahul Dravid played another innings when he inaugurated Vivek's digital format of store-Digital 1 at Forum Mall, Koramangala in Bangalore. designed by DFC, FRDC, this format of Vivek's will help connecting to youth segment offering wide range of Smart Phones, Ipads, Lap Tops, Cameras, Mobiles and oter Digital and IT products. The design of store and re branding is youth oriented and invites that age segment. Viveks is well know South Indian retailer trusted amongst million of families. "The objective of this store design was to connect with youth and IT lovers and thus the design caters to that", says Sanjay Agarwal, Director FRDC. Viveks will expand this format into several Malls across Chennai, Bangalore, and other major towns of Southern India.

Karnataka Star launches Viveks Flagship in Bangalore!

Famous film star and youth icon of Karnataka Puneet Rajkumar inaugurated Viveks Flagship store at Jayanagar in Bangalore. Viveks also completed 47 years in electronics business started in June 1965. With the heritage and trust behind, Vivek's reinvented Jayanagar store which is largest in Bangalore. Spread across 11000 sft on two levels the store has a new design catering to today's lifestyle of consumers. Designed by DFC, FRDC, the store speaks a new language to consumer with same old trust of Viveks. Says Sanjay Agarwal, FRDC-" Viveks is a old trusted brand in south India and the challenge is to bridge their core TG and new customer. We have tried to do this by design where certain sections within store like Digital, IT, gaming, LCD etc have a more active feel". The facade and windows also connect through brand and products.