Monday, August 24, 2020

INSPIRATIONAL MERCHANDISING

While the world continues to turn amidst the turmoil of recent events, and businesses are running against the clock to face the changes and consequential economic repercussions, retailers are trying to enhance their shops with positivity, to spread the much-needed message of hope and optimism for the future. The changes caused by the Covid-19 pandemic have brought normal life to a halt, forcing people to evaluate their return to normality with caution and consider new priorities. Trends in store design reflect a shared moment that looks forward to a rosier future, exploiting the power of dreams, to entice consumers into re-imagining each and every aspect of their lives, shopping included, with positivity. 

Brands are projecting optimistic messages and shop design aims to creating contrasting moods: experimenting with colour, shape, textures and light to emphasise the clear division between light and dark, positive and negative, providing an emotional experience that takes shoppers on a wonderful journey. Establishing a connection, yet, at the same time, forming a division between the various sales areas, through the use of contrasting colours and materials, leads the customer along a stimulating route, from darkness to light, as he or she wanders through the store.

Merchandising and furnishings must, therefore, encourage a desire to explore and enable discovery: the creation of dream-like utopia, though imaginative and playful use of colours, symbols and decor provide an all-round experience that thrills and inspires consumers. Mood-enhancing colours are key, from pink to pastels and purple, as well as all-over designs that not only attract attention, but also provide great opportunities to share the moment through social media, an ally that is more precious than ever during these unprecedented times.

During the obligatory closure, brought about by the pandemic, a number of retailers used their shopfronts and windows to project positive messages and keep people’s spirits high. Luis Vuitton is one such example, filling their store windows with lovely rainbows created by their employees and their children, aiming to bring hope and positivity and a surge of energy. The London designer, Mira Mikati, looked beyond Covid-19 and created a shop that also functions as a playground foradults and children alike, stating that "My aim was to create an experimental space that was more than just a retail outlet, but that could be a playground where people can shop, re-energise and discover new things in one, single place, nicknamed ‘the happy house that provides a constant supply of happiness.’” The shop is filled with rainbow-coloured chairs, life-size dolls and a slide in its courtyard.

Some shops have even organised live shows outside to entertain queueing customers, while inside, retro concepts link arms with nostalgic themes to reassure customers at such uncertain times. We already know that many people have taken advantage of the pandemic to apply themselves to arts and crafts, in the hope of finding reassurance and tranquillity. These are areas in which retailers need to invest their energy, as we are aware that consumers are all the more sensitive after challenging times, and look to the past for a feeling of optimism and happiness.