Artistic retail spaces are becoming increasingly popular in a super competitive market. A decade ago, Prada opened a store in New York’s SoHo neighborhood. The first visitors who entered the space were amazed. Sweeping light wood staircases in a bowl-shape dominated the room. Ranks of stylish mannequins and glass cabinets containing handbags were displayed like ancient relics.
The artistic retail spaces were designed and curated by Dutch architect, Rem Koolhaas, whose aggressively artistic approach to merchandise display helped launch the shop-as-gallery trend where the lines between retail and art are purposely blurred.
The strategy is surprising but effective. When Adidas hired IPaintMyMind to curate art for their newest and largest flagship Adidas Originals store in Chicago, they brought the street inside by connecting locally and creating an art exhibition wall that makes it so much more than a place to buy merchandise.
Whether Prada in New York or Adidas in Chicago, brands have a unique opportunity to include art in what functionally, is an exhibition.
In a world where shoppers increasingly buy clothes online, brick and mortar storefronts must innovate to avoid going extinct. Industry leaders looked for new methods of display alignment and presentation, aiming to tickle human gratification sensors of mindfulness, excitement, and wonder.
The prevailing trend is one of cool minimalism, rather than the creative chaos of some modern art galleries. Saint Laurent stores have replaced their traditional dark mahogany shelves with more bare-bones motifs: rails running the length of a cement floor and shoes mounted on walls to evoke “serenity” and “calm.
Victoria Beckham’s flagship store in London also delivered a polished, concrete layout that turns the space into a blank canvas and pushes the customers’ eyes toward a carefully curated selection of goods.
More than just an enhanced shopping experience, artistic displays are about branding. Companies increasingly seek to cultivate customer allegiance by imbuing products with an attitude or ethos the customer can identify with. The shop-as-gallery trend compliments the product and its marketing campaign by using the store itself to convey a brand’s specific allure.
This is a welcome change to an influential industry. While most things try for maximum stimuli to grab our attention, minimalistic retail spaces offer a welcome respite from maze-like warehouses retailers packed with aggressive shoppers and electronic music.
We believe anything that inspires artistic creativity, or merely unplugs an individual from their frenzied life, if just for a minute, is a positive development we should all seek to embrace.