This spring, we asked a number of experts in retail design to make their predictions for the future of the British high street. Echoing Mary Portas’ Review of the High Street, which was published this month, many pointed to the idea of the high street becoming less about sales, and more about community as it increasingly struggles to compete with online and m-commerce retailers.
Despite this, the year has shown a number of innovative interiors concepts crop up not only for big brands and developments,but for smaller standalone stores which are realising that now, more than ever, unusual, experiential shopping environments are crucial in ensuring footfall.
A Sweet Thought confectionary shop, with interiors by consultancy Industry, used interactive elements and Alice in Wonderland fantasy influences, while Nike’s 1948 Project also harnessed consumer engagement for the space, which operates as a retail, experiential and events base, with interiors and branding by Hotel Creative alongside Nike’s in-house team.
While the pop-up phenomenon is being rounded up in a separate review later this week, its influence has seen retailers re-thinking the way they operate and design their spaces. In august we reported on Grimshaw Architects’ work with John Lewis to create a portable retail environment, which can host collections to be toured in various stores around the country.
Meanwhile, pop-star Robbie Williams’ foray into the retail world was assisted by Barber Design, who created the interiors for his Farrell House of Fraser concession which launched in the autumn.
American fashion retailer Forever 21’s much-hyped debut in the UK saw the store move onto Oxford Street with interiors by US-based architect JT Nakaoka.
Many UK consultancies continued to work on huge overseas projects, such as JHP’s new store concept for the Moscow flagship outlet of Russian chain Dom Farfora and its huge D Cube retail development in Seoul; Cada’s work with Portuguese Sonae supermarkets and GP Studios’ retail concept for Avenue K, a high-end shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
It seemed that despite the recession, in 2011, size mattered. Earlier this month interior group Shed developed the retail design for a Kurt Geiger concession in Dublin department store Arnotts, making what it claims will be the largest shoe department in Ireland.
However, perhaps the biggest retail story of the year – at least physically – was the opening of Westfield Stratford shopping centre in East London.
The centre has homed new flagship stores for many brands, including 20.20 and Fitch’s Ann Summers concept; Dalziel & Pow’s work on John Lewis’ ‘technology and fashion concepts’ and a huge Marks and Spencer, with a new in-store plan instructed by the retailer’s chief executive Marc Bolland.
Find out what we thought at the opening here