3 x Gallery Inspired Store Experiences

As online brands expand offline and traditional retailers revamp their brick-and-mortar footprints to lure shoppers back in, store design is an increasingly important element of the brand experience.

Brands are creating store layouts that encourage customers to explore and interact with products at their own pace, creating experience-driven shopping that focuses on product discovery rather than the traditional purchase path.

1. Dover Street Market

Rather than pile up inventory on shelves and tables, retailers such as Dover Street Market create (self-proclaimed) ‘beautiful chaos’ within their stores - the antithesis of traditional retail experiences.

Founded by Rei Kawakubo & Adrian Joffe of Comme des Garcons, Dover Street Market ripped up the rule book that premeditates how a luxury store ‘should’ look and behave – instead, drawing behavioural (pace) and layout (zoning) inspiration from art galleries.  

Textural sound and specially commissioned lighting add to Kawakubo’s ‘beautiful chaos’. They are mini works of art in their own right.  

Russell Ashdown, LOVE’s Creative Director for Interior Design, embraces Dover Street Market’s liberated retail treatment: 

“Brand interiors are increasingly looking more like sets than permanent architectural spaces. The consumer’s desire for unique experiences and the speed of change in product development and promotion is causing interiors to 'decouple' from the buildings that house them.”  

This approach comes as a welcome relief from the cookie-cutter commercial spaces of the past; instead, focusing on creating memorable spaces for consumers that morph and change more often, and in unexpected ways.

2. Hyundai Genesis

Hyundai Genesis opened its first flagship showroom in Seoul, South Korea. It has been designed to function more like a gallery, divided up with a series of freestanding concrete partition walls.

The arrangement of the walls creates private areas for customer consultation and allows for the display of vehicles to be varied. The space features massive illuminated ceilings, with light panels that attempt to mimic how cars are photographed in studios, with large light banks.

Additionally, the stark interior incorporates some sensory elements, which Genesis programmed so that certain areas of the space express the brand’s scent and music collection.

3. COS

Each year, high-street fashion retailer, COS, collaborate with a different art and design studio to create physical experiences beyond transactional exchange.  

This year, art-based collaboration, gallery-style pop-ups and Instagram-worthy visual merchandising was obviously the formula for success when COS teamed up with Brooklyn studio Snarkitecture.  

Stepping into the pink and white ‘gallery’, shoppers could browse the collection and take photos within the cut-out garment silhouettes – always a hit. In our increasingly plugged-in world, people crave unique products and experiences that engage them IRL while simultaneously fuelling content creation for their digital lives.   

These store designs use high-culture influences to heighten the shopping experience, transforming the physical retail space from a trader of commodities into an aspirational retreat and a channel for discovery.  

SEEN is compiled by LOVE’s Head of Culture, Kat Towers. Want to say hello, ask questions or challenge her cultural knowledge then get in touch kattowers@lovecreative.com