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Retail Audit - Concrete within Retail March 2016
We recently worked on a project that involved the use of concrete treatments, throughout the research element of this project we became very aware of this material and its popularity within the current retail environment. The influx of concrete within retail environments followed the industrial styling takeover, which has completely swept its way throughout retail, hospitality and almost every single interior space. The industrial style itself is such a popular choice which really appeared from nowhere, it wasn't even style, more a unfinished look. However from somewhere there is an appreciation for its visual appeal and lack of pretension, allowing products and surroundings to speak for themselves. With stripped-back architecture and salvaged items, the trend continues to grow in popularity. To find an industrial look and feel within the most expensive stores is no longer a surprise, but an expectation.
Many interior designers are now mixing both modern and old/industrial materials to stimulate the customer and create visual interest within their space. As a result of this, we wanted to look at the use of concrete within retail, in more detail and highlight some examples we feel have been completed well and the stores that have perfected the look.
Gentleman's dress shirt retailer T.M.Lewin has clad their Oxford Street store window in a concrete effect, which creates an urban/minimal backdrop to their window display.
Nike have used a convincing concrete plinth and cladding for their Niketown in London, the addition of neon styled lighting really creates a bold display mixing the two very different stylings.
Contemporary fashion chain French Connection has applied a concrete style finish to MDF plinths, even including plasterer trowel markings to enhance authenticity. This industrial and minimalist look and style creates an environment where the products shine and so draw the full attention of the customer.
Similarly to T.M Lewin, women's fashion store Forever 21 has clad their window space with a concrete look, adding concrete style plinths and walls.
Designer clothing company G-Star Raw uses concrete not only in its temporary window displays but also, as part of their permanent fixtures and fitting, using wall panels and window plinths.
The very stylish Stratford Fred Perry store, which has clearly perfected the industrial styling, has used low level concrete free standing units to great effect.
The Harvey Nichols situated in Birmingham's Mailbox is a veritable visual feast with a huge array of materials employed throughout the store. This concrete feature wall is wonderfully tactile and creates the perfect backdrop to the products in the area, the eye-catching design is used to grab to the attention of wandering customers to that area of the store allowing the products within the display to then do the rest.
Sportswear giants Adidas have taken a slightly different approach and used a concrete effect for illuminated plinths in their Oxford Street flagship window display. Mixing the minimalist industrial styling with a modern approach of display lighting, we love this technique of using a retro-trend in a up-to-date approach,
Obviously many other stores are using the concrete style and doing it well, these few were recent stand-out examples that had caught our eye and we had appreciated from a design aspect.
It is now apparent throughout retail, that stores are now proudly displaying building materials that many others have previously tried to conceal, and adding a raw/unfinished look and feel with items that are as much function as style. Who knows how long this trend/style will flourish, but what we do know is that right now this is the design look that most stores are looking at achieve.