Retail Brand Theatre Part 2 – Localising Chain Store Design

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog about how retail brands have been fighting back to try and recover some of the territory they have lost with the rise of e-commerce by introducing retail theatre to their customer experience.  This blog follows on from that thought, with a closer look at some of the world’s leading brands and how they are localising their chain store designs to appeal to the local customers.


Anthropologie are the masters of creating unique chain store environments. According to former Anthropologie president Glen Senk, one of their store’s philosophies is to ‘use the money that other companies spend on marketing to create a store experience that exceeds people’s expectations’.
With over 90 stores in the US and UK, their design collaborators, Pompei A.D create informal, almost sculptural floor designs incorporating a rich palette of finish materials (usually 60 or more compared to the six to eight used in most retail stores) to define each store by strong textural themes.
To strengthen customer identification each store integrates local cultural elements and no two stores look the same. Anthropologie’s creative team collaborates with local artists and artisans for fixtures and finishes, and store merchandise is peppered with purchasable vintage finds creating a ‘flea market’ vibe in-store. See some of the unique designs below.

Opening Ceremony
Ultra-hip, Olympics-inspired American retailer, Opening Ceremony, launched a pop-up store in London’s Covent Garden to coincide with this year’s big sporting event. Known for their collaborations with both established and emerging talent, the London venture includes Olympics-themed apparel made exclusively for them by the likes of Adidas, Topshop and Norma Kamali. Some stock highlights include a limited edition House of Holland mini dress in British colours, a miniature gold version of Proenza Schouler’s PS11 satchel, and signature pieces by cult jeweller Pamela Love.  For the interior spaces, Opening Ceremony engaged renowned British designer Faye Toogood to produce customised furniture pieces from re-purposed materials such as carpet underlay, horsehair, wood and rubber, reflecting the temporal nature of the pop-up store. The window installations by Studio Toogood included white rubberized totems marked with geometric shapes playfully channelling the spirit of the Olympic Games.


Australian skincare label Aesop is another brand that has not relied on traditional advertising to build its highly successful international brand. Instead, founder Dennis Paphitis would prefer to sponsor a local arts festival or place Aesop products in the bathroom of a restaurant that shares Aesop’s commitment to sourcing quality ingredients. Another key to the brand’s success has been its approach to store design. According to Paphitis, each store is individually designed, so rather than being a chain of stores each outlet is like charms on a bracelet.  As my colleague David Ansett pointed out in one of his earlier blogs, in Hong Kong, Cheungvogl architects were inspired by an image of floating lanterns and have temporarily transformed the I.T HYSAN ONE exhibition space in Hong Kong through the installation of eight hundred luminous resin boxes arranged upon steel rods. Some boxes hold Aesop formulations while others are designed to reward visitors’ curiosity through unexpected sound, scent and touch.


In today’s tough retail envi­ron­ment, it is imper­a­tive brand own­ers find a way to stand out from the crowd and offer their cus­tomers a unique expe­ri­ence.  For many of our clients localising their store design, like Spudbar, this has become a core part of how they differentiate from the market.  If you’d like to stand out from the crowd with your  store design, why not give us a call?

Nikki Williams
Director of Brand Projects


Originally spotted on LMFF’s blog. 

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