Time Magazine publishes a Style & Design issue every quarter. It’s filled with “the people and ideas behind today’s most influential design.” I just received the most recent issue bundled with my Time magazine a couple days ago. You can see the TOP 100 issue from 2007 here.
In the most recent summer issue, a couple of pages were dedicated to retail, with the subhead, “more than ever, fashion and design stores are becoming necessary global manifestations of a particular brand’s stylistic DNA.” A heady title no doubt, but the pictures and descriptions of the stores were inspiring to say the least.
While a small retailer would find it hard to spend the money that the big guys have, it’s easy to get inspired by the designs. I walked away with several trends to be mindful of.
THE REAL WORLD RETAILING TAKEAWAY
Retailers tell a story – take a look at my post from a few days back. In all of the store concepts that were featured, story-telling was key.
Keep it clean and simple – merchandise was neatly displayed with a “less is more” mentality. Don’t overwhelm your customer with too much merchandise. You’ll look more like a Marshall’s than the specialty retail concept that you are.
Create a sense of discovery – Each store had unique fixtures and shelving that created a store layout which begged their customers to wander and discover. The Yves Saint Laurent boutique in Paris and the Gucci store in New York both had a museum feel with wide open spaces and sparse fixtures. The Eco store in London, a store focused on greener living, has an old world feel with nooks, crannies and cubbies filled with merchandise throughout the store.
Create an experience – the Lane Crawford store in Beijing has a technology bar and a live DJ to enhance the experience. One of my favorite stores is Base in South Beach. With a CD listening bar, books to browse, scents to smell and accessories, shoes and unique furniture items, this boutique has managed to combine all of them into a seamless, cohesive experience that excites the senses. Base even carries the experience through to their website, with evocative design and a music track that isn’t just music, but an actual track with rotating songs and the names and artists of the songs listed on the home page (and of course you can purchase music right on the site).
Design inspiration is everywhere. Open your eyes and ears to what’s around you. Rip pages out of magazines, take a picture on your cell phone of a retail display or fixture you like. Then do something with the information. As small retailers, we can and should always be refining our concept to make it the best it possibly can be.
How are you finding inspiration?