Shopping as an Experience

Unusual architectural and interior concepts for shops aim to inspire customers and invite identification.


For a long time now, architectural and design concepts for retail properties have had to do far more than ensure a clearly structured presentation of the goods. The requirements shop fittings need to satisfy have changed considerably – partly due to the spread of permanently available online shopping opportunities. Today, with so much competition for consumers' attention and time, it takes special motivation to prompt a visit to a real shop. Besides the products available, the design of the sales environment therefore plays a more crucial role than ever before: an inspiring, novel presentation of goods, well-designed (interior) architecture or an unusual location can make all the difference. Both the architecture and the interior should be as appealing as possible whilst simultaneously expressing the respective brand's identity.

Emotional access
Given this background, it's vital for new shop concepts to turn shopping into an experience if at all possible: they need to create an ambience that attracts attention and triggers emotions without stealing the show from the products on display – a successful mix of design and sales promotion. As a result, contemporary retail stores often invite interaction, make the products emotionally accessible to their customers and provide scope for potential identification with what they're selling. It is not unusual for retail outlets to offer additional possibilities in addition to their sales areas, enabling them to double as places of communication and encounter, cafés or event locations. If they succeed in creating the right atmosphere and impression, they will tempt customers to shop and encourage them to return.

Unusual design
On the other hand, what's on sale is becoming increasingly homogeneous as a result of global brands. An individually designed sales floor is therefore all the more important – and not just for smaller shops or specialised retail chains with exclusive products. Unusual architectural or interior concepts can cause a sensation and communicate a lifestyle that's compatible with its customer target groups. As a result, there is currently a trend towards sophisticated retail design featuring a flamboyant interior and out-of-the-ordinary elements. Thanks to new, surprising ideas and special dramaturgy, shops are turning into a cosmos of their own and carving out a niche for themselves in an ever more homogeneous market.

Design down to the last detail
Unusual interior elements such as the furnishings, lighting, floor or wall coverings give retail spaces their own distinctive character. There is a demand for concepts in which the individual objects demonstrate style, the furniture or carpets are individually designed and the lighting underscores the special feel of the space. The materials and surface finishes are also playing an increasingly important role. It is an understandable development, for a carefully designed environment suggests the same approach to the goods on sale. When it comes to fitting out shops, design has thus asserted itself as an all-embracing language that pervades every detail. However, that definitely does not equate to monotonous homogenisation. On the contrary: the individuality of an interior, be it in London, Milan, New York or Beijing, is becoming all the more important.

From 13 to 19 January 2014, the coming imm cologne and the LivingInteriors event that is held parallel to it will be presenting the latest furnishing and design solutions for retail properties. Numerous exhibitors will be showing market-ready new products for fitting out shops, concept stores and other retail spaces where the design goes far beyond the mere presentation of goods.

Source: Koelnmesse, reprint free of charge