To mark the Milano Design Week 2017, Elle Decor Italia presents the Elle Decor Concept Store, The New Shopping Experience at Palazzo Bovara from 3 to 28 April. A project with strongly innovative content on the world of retail applied to interior design.
“Shops are out, experiences are in” announced Forbes in January 2017.
The advance of digital and the exponential rise in the number of e-commerce businesses have also hit the retail sector: stores and boutiques need to find a new way for preserving their relationship with the consumer, as suggested by Future Concept Lab, which carried out the consumer insight survey for the project.
Elle Decor Italia, magazine with an international vocation and attentive catalyser of lifestyles, which since 1990 has closely followed evolution in the world of retail, today presents a new-gen store. In the installation in Palazzo Bovara the base elements that make a contemporary store stand out remain, but they have been completely reworked. The project imagines retail as somewhere analogical and digital meet up, where the physicality of the objects dialogues with the digital experience and where the consumer is a main player in the space, be it real or virtual. The store becomes a privileged place for information and experimentation, an occasion for meeting and socialising, suggesting a unique customer experience to visitors.
The visit to this installation, with exhibition design by GamFratesi, starts at Reception where visitors who register receive an interactive device for the collection of personalised information. Integrated with digital experiences curated by AKQA, the customer journey winds through a series of settings:
Invite, soft-touch showcases; Gallery, to be viewed through the holographic HoloLens glasses by Microsoft; Taste, a space for meeting and sharing over a coffee; Experience, for experimenting light with digital interaction; Feel, for discovering patterns and fabrics in a situation that borrows the immersive effect from art; Try, for trying on furnishings and accessories as if they were clothes in real changing rooms and Cabinet, for exploring with the Sayduck app. Relaxing breaks can be taken in the Restaurant and, outdoors, the Garden with café-bistro and bakery in the landscape setting designed by Marco Bay.
The project was backed by analysis carried out by Francesco Morace with Future Concept Lab for both the innovative border that runs through the trends of the domestic experience and those of retail distribution, and also the figure of the consumer. Already the stars of the investigation-book “ConsumAutori – i nuovi nuclei generazionali” published in 2016 (Egea), “consumers today are the real planners of their own consumer experience, very attentive to design thinking, which is a new to approach purchase,” emphasises Morace. “Their behaviour, attentive to the product, to the sales point project and storytelling, drives the design of innovative retail spaces where the borders between on and offline, between digital and analogic disappear. Today, this is an all-in experience.
The Elle Decor Concept Store proposal is part of this direction of integrated store/online system, a true laboratory of ideas and solutions.”
The installation was curated by GamFratesi, founded by the Dane Stine Gam and the Italian Enrico Fratesi, who describes the underlying idea like this: “We have analysed the relationship that comes about between visitor and the space, creating and reworking the traditional elements of the store. With the aim of giving a sensorial and evocative interpretation to suggest and invite a new experience where the visitor is the focus of the project. Showcases that provide information and tell stories, micro-architectures dedicated solely to testing the light, the private, secluded space of the changing room transported into the world of design and furnishing are just some of the experiences we have included in this project. A message that does not focus merely on the purchase, but where the product, complete with the info acquired and personally tested, becomes interaction and action, story and context.”
This structure provides support for integration of the digital experience created by AKQA, the brand experience agency responsible for development of design interaction. Massimiliano Ventimiglia, the managing director says:
“The digital experiences we have designed help to eliminate barriers between retailers and people, to create familiarity with the objects on display and the space inside the store, to subjectively and empathically explain the products. But also to gather significant data about customer behaviour in the store in order to initiate dialogue and provide additional info about the product, share suggestions and advice from experts, allowing for customisation and at the same time to entertain, surprise and invite moments of fun.”
Marco Bay, the name behind the landscape design, has followed through several of the colours and elements from the interiors in his project for the in and out space: “In the courtyard, the garden is built around a special setting thanks to bamboo and wisteria with its lilac and dark purple flowers.
The pale green of the plants is teamed with giant bamboo canes, creating a suspended effect thanks to a series of pergolas and ideal structures around which the sinuous branches of the wisteria twine. Inside the store, in the Gallery, a collection of ferns, umbrella papyrus and common asparagus ferns form infinite shades of green, following the visitor throughout.”