Online shopping is changing the retail landscape; with a few simple clicks, one can easily conduct a lavish shopping spree while lounging in bed. It’s hard to deny the allure of forgoing a cross-city venture and instead shopping from the comforts of home. But the brick-and-mortar response to this changing industry is an exciting one. “Shopping may be about to undergo a dramatic transformation,” the BBC predicts. “Within the next decade it could change into an activity driven entirely by experiences and interactive technology rather than the act of buying. Think pop-up shops on steroids…”
When we shop in person these days, we need enticement. Online shopping is just so darn easy, but designers and marketers are realizing that physical stores have to respond by offering something a website can’t: an experience. The emphasis has shifted from the product to the manner in which it is displayed; the atmosphere of a physical shop must intrigue us and draw us in. Shops, and luxury boutiques in particular, have become destinations for the design-savvy and the cultural elite. They must offer experiences that delight the senses — and, of course, inspire us to open our wallets.
The last few years have seen a rise in simply gorgeous boutique interiors across the globe. The following designs create stunning worlds in which shoppers can luxuriate in beauty and innovation while reaching for their credit cards.
In-Sight Concept Store, Miami (OHLAB)
In developing a visual identity for this shop, OHLAB looked to In-Sight’s logo: two interlaced circles that form a pair of binoculars. These shapes were then rotated and transformed with the use of twenty-four wall panels. “At the end of the space, a graphic panel features a trompe d’oleil creating an illusion of continuity beyond the limits of the store,” says the firm. “The gaps between the panels offer a wide range of possibilities of use, product exhibition, storage, or sitting, all perfectly integrated in the design.”
Aesop Store, London (Snøhetta)
Aesop is known for its creative and widely varied shop interiors, though its Chelsea location is perhaps the most exciting. World-renowned firm Snøhetta approached this project with an eye to the future. According to the firm, the store’s design “is inspired by the contextual relevance of the location combined with an influence of futuristic elements. The result is an interior characterized by classic archetypes, a pale red colour palette, and stainless-steel elements.”
Sulwhasoo, Seoul (Neri & Hu)
This skincare line’s flagship store is a startling optic delight. Complex brass latticework completely transformed this pre-existing five-story unit. For inspiration, design firm Neri & Hu looked to the shape and meaning of a particular object: the lantern. “The literal and mythological meaning of the lantern is highly significant throughout Asian history — it leads you through the dark, showing you the way and indicating the beginning and end of a journey,” says the firm. The result is a space that alternates between dark and light, and in which the products are displayed as precious objects.
RED Valentino, London (India Mahdavi)
French/Iranian designer India Mahdavi has a special knack for creating colourful, imaginative boutiques. For RED (a sister line of the Italian fashion house Valentino), pale golds and soft pastel pinks are used to create an interior that almost seems to glow. Curving walls, oblong mirrors, and plush, rounded furniture lend a decadent feel to the space, as though its fashionable shoppers are exploring the inside of a sweet dessert.
Kindo, San Pedro Garza Garcia, Mexico (Anagrama)
Anagrama was tasked with the unique challenge of turning this exclusive children’s boutique into a space that would please children and adults alike. The solution? A life-size version of the classic children’s circle bead maze. The firm states that their approach has created “a dynamic space where each of the bead maze’s attributes are used for the products’ exhibition. The tubes function as display stands for clothing and the beads are used to exhibit an array of accessories. The interior achieves its function as a unique space that perfectly complements the brand’s style.” This creative boutique is certain to please children — and adults who are kids at heart.
Miu Miu, Tokyo (Herzog & de Meuron)
For this project, Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron were faced with creating a suitable space for a luxurious brand in a neighbourhood that was, in their own words, “not particularly beautiful or elegant.” A dramatic façade and plush interior, with highly reflective materials used throughout, helped create a space luxurious enough for the high-end retail line. “The rounded, soft edges of the copper surfaces inside meet with the razor-sharp steel corners on the outside of the metal box,” says the firm, “while the cave-like niches clad in brocade face the central space of the shop like loges in a theatre.”
FEIT Shoe Shop, New York (Jordana Maisie)
This stunning interior in New York’s West Village is so visually rich, photographs seem to take on the appearance of digital renderings; the space almost doesn’t look real. Designer Jordana Maisie used birch plywood slats to create dynamic, geometric walls and display areas that perfectly compliment the rich aesthetic and natural materials of FEIT footwear. A colour-changing LED lighting system adds a delightful contrast to the nature-inspired hues of this store, which offers a calming oasis at the heart of a busy urban centre.