Harvey Nichols has set out the blueprint for the look of its stores across the globe with a new outlet in Birmingham which has been designed by Virgile+Partners.
The consultancy has worked on the design of the boutique feel store for six months, looking to “redefine luxury” and bring together “style and technology seamlessly,” according to Virgile+Partners director Carlos Virgile.
“We want to give people a reason to come here”
While there are several interactive digital experiences the design emphasis of the 4180m2 store has been on customer service – “Giving people a reason to come here,” says Virgile.
It sets the tone for the seven-floor flagship store in Knightsbridge London, which is expected to open in around nine months and is also being designed by Virgile+Partners.
Redesigned Harvey Nichols stores in Knightsbridge and Dubai to follow
Virgile says there will not be a roll-out of the design and that each location will be given a bespoke solution. “We have set out a design style and will continue to go forward with that. We’re currently working on a Harvey Nichols store in Dubai. This is the first step. How long they will all take we don’t know.”
For the Birmingham store he says: “There was no time to prototype anything and although it’s been an enjoyable process that was very challenging.”
The store is located in the Mailbox development and opens on Friday. Passers by will notice a 5×3.5m screen showing seasonal and curated content, which has been opted for instead of a traditional shop window design.
Customers will enter via a 12m tunnel – also an LED light installation – at the end of which, Harvey Nichols concierge staff will operate a cloak-room, valet parking and other services.
An oversized baroque-style chandelier delineates the Concierge desk and several lecterns displaying the Harvey Nichols website.
Flat 360° interactive mirror lets you look at your behind
This area also hosts fitting rooms with a “360° interactive mirror” which films the customer looking at it on a short delay, meaning that if they were to spin round by the time they are facing the mirror again they can see their back and behind clearly.
Virgile says that across the store the consultancy has stayed away from “typically luxurious materials” adding, “This is how we are redefining luxury. If you look up you can see the ceiling is made from polycarbonate panels – a very cheap material to touch but has this fantastic shimmer and adds glamour to the environment.”
“Simple materials have been made beautiful”
Elsewhere there is a juxtaposition of cheaper and more traditionally luxurious materials such as a textured brick and timber wall, plywood boxes, terrazzo plinths, exposed insulation material and the use of bronze and marble.
“We’ve worked with suppliers to make really simple materials become really beautiful,” says consultancy partner Ewald Damen.
There are no branded concessions and instead customers are encouraged to meander between brands. There is no walkway for customers to follow. Towards the back of the store curved walls give way to beauty and hair treatment areas over a split mezzanine level.
A restaurant, cocktail bar, tapas bar and open kitchen can be accessed separately out of store hours. They have a luxury feel and combine grey and green with copper and wood.
“It was about bringing back the important values of the Harvey Nichols brand which is about being witty and fun; Bringing them to the surface in the context of something new,” says Virgile.