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Fashion Retail: architectural space in the service of fashion

LNMN NOTES

MFW: Fashion Retail Project

The wonderful world of Haute Couture is back in Milan and the streets are bustling. Caught up in the fashion-forward and eclectic atmosphere of Milan Fashion Week and still bedazzled by the catwalk shows, we deep dived into the most fashionable streets and the cathedrals of Fashion Retail.

The spaces are polished and hypertechnological, housing the collections in a fluid ambience where the staged experience is elevated by the play of light and reflections. This is the delicate and invaluable task Laminam surfaces perform inside a store.

Because they do such a good job of ennobling the retail display space, the demand for them is soaring among architects and designers. Discreet and elegant, they exhibit their sophisticated design, perfectly poised beside the eclectic and multicolour fashion collections. They conspire with the revived sensory appeal of the spaces to point to invisible aisles, directing the gaze without obstructing the displays. The architectural interior is designed to serve an increasingly omnichannel shopping experience, becoming a building block of the qualitative and multi-sensory brand experience.

“Le Pubbliche Relazioni” store - Foggia (Apulia - Italy). Floor, walls, display window area, and counter in Bianco Statuario Venato - I Naturali

Peculiarities of a retail space designed to serve fashion and the “uniqueness” of Laminam

In a recent interview to the Fashion Journal, Filipa Gomes of Zaha Hadid Architects stated: “We don’t follow a specific rule for converting a brand into an architectural interior. We try to understand the meaning behind the brand in an empirical manner and work our way from there”. This basically summarises Laminam’s approach to interior design projects for the Fashion Retail world. Thanks to their exceptional versatility and an extraordinarily wide range, Laminam surfaces can be adapted to the most diverse aesthetic needs and it does this by supporting, not foregoing, the desires of the people who will be using the spaces. Prestige, elegance, minimalism: whatever the identity, Laminam can create it. Choosing the right texture and the most appropriate finish are decisive criteria for brands that want to tell their story and convey their style to their customers.

However, we’ll come back to the aesthetic impact later. Right now we want to focus on functionality. A retail space, in fact, is not only about concept and design. Besides the aesthetic dimension, the floors, cladding and furnishing complements have to be made of a material that ensures high functional standards.

With their inherent characteristics, Laminam products are acting as an advocate for high-end quality and the new technologies that are gaining the spotlight.

Fedele Mode store in Naples (Italy). Interior floorings, Sale - Fokos series; Windows flooring, Invisible White - I Naturali series

Made with advanced technologies, Laminam slabs are thin and large in size while at the same time delivering extraordinarily high resistance to stress, making them perfect for applications such as, for example, high-traffic floors. In addition, they are incredibly easy to clean. Hot water and a mild detergent is all that’s needed to clean the ceramic surface without running the risk of damaging it. This is perfect for Fashion Retail spaces, where ensuring high levels of hygiene and subjecting materials to frequent cleaning is mandatory.

What’s more, a growing number of fashion retailers are following the popular store design trend, catering to the needs of their customers with large comfortable spaces featuring fluid and obstacle-free paths of travel. Here, the large size of the ceramic slabs becomes an unrivalled ally because it expands the perception of the space without overwhelming it thanks to their minimal thickness, which gives them an incredibly light feel. What’s more, the polished finish available in most of the Laminam collections provides a shiny and reflecting surface that amplifies the size and brightness of the environments, allowing for a comfortable shopping experience.

A good example are the big slabs in the striking Nero Greco Lucidato finish from the I Naturali collection chosen by the German architectural firm Davide Conti Architektur to clad the imposing columns of the Benesch luxury boutique in the heart of Bavaria. The slabs definitely elevate the surrounding environment with their polished marble finish, adding to the light and airy concept and bringing lightness to the false ceilings and shop fittings too.

Benesch boutique - Augsburg (Germany). Columns cladding, Nero Greco Lucidato - I Naturali series

Designers and architects choosing a Laminam product for their Retail projects can count on a reliable and trusted business partner. But also on flexibility.

The latest retail store design trends, in fact, emphasise the need for flexible interiors that blend well with the constant flow of new products. There’s more to it, however. To compete with digital retail, brick-and-mortar stores are stepping up their game by hosting in-store events, such as to celebrate a new collaboration, offer a welcoming cocktail, or host an art show. Clothing stores are looking more like concept stores nowadays. So, flexibility should definitely be factored in as a way to engage customers in an experience that goes beyond the purchase and bolsters loyalty. In the game of recognisability, Laminam slabs win. Designers can undoubtedly count on a wide variety of heterogeneous application and display methods, but this exceptional versatility also means that they can rely on surfaces with a very marked, distinctive and easily recognisable identity, becoming an integral part of the brand’s culture.

Customers will be walking into their community.

Laminam for displays customers won’t walk past: from product to experience

When creating a retail space, Laminam surfaces follow a dual logic. Their role is both passive and active. In the former role, they work for the products on display, which are the main attraction; in the latter role, they promote the emotions customers feel as they walk in the store. Boutiques and multi-level stores alike become a real experiential platform to explore, feel and indulge in.

Architects who find themselves in the position of choosing the most suitable Laminam series from the range can become demiurges who mould the material and transform it into communication.

Let’s look, for example, at the multi-brand store of women’s apparel and accessories “Le Pubbliche Relazioni” (Foggia, Italy) designed by the multidisciplinary Silvio Girolamo Studio.

First and foremost, the architects based the renovation project to reflect a feeling a customer would have in the store: that of being at ease in a stylish space. Elegance and comfort were at the top of the list, for a high-level but not sumptuous shopping experience.

This is why alongside the rose colour, fresh and welcoming, chosen as the distinctive mark of the store, the Apulia-based studio used big, marble-inspired Bianco Statuario Venato Laminam slabs to embellish the walls, counter and accent pieces.

On first impression, customers have the perception of being in an elegant, clean and upscale place.

“Le Pubbliche Relazioni” store - Foggia (Apulia - Italy). Floor, walls, display window area, and counter in Bianco Statuario Venato - I Naturali

Design in the service of the shopping experience

We have seen ways the sensory and emotional spheres affect today’s shopping experience.

Now we will briefly analyse how store design influences shopper movement and decisions. When shoppers walk into a store, they may be moved by one of three intentions — they may be looking to purchase something specifically, searching for inspiration, or gathering information for a likely future purchase. Let’s see how the furnishings and the layout of the spaces can condition their goals.

In creating a successful layout that guides customers along the space, allowing them to easily find what they are looking for and eliciting positive emotions in them, the design of the interiors —just like the furniture design — plays a fundamental role. The chromatic harmony, accent colours, and lighting work together to attract shoppers to certain corners of the store and, unbeknownst to them, suggest a path.

An example of this is the staircase that joins the various floors of the big Naples store Fedele Mode, which started out as a small business and expanded into today’s five locations. Tecla Architettura, the firm at the helm of the project, chose to clad the steps with the eye-catching Noir Desir Bocciardato from the I Naturali collection, one of the best known Laminam collections.

What was the goal? They wanted to make the path from one level to the other both evident and inviting, enticing shoppers to continue their shopping experience in the upper levels.

The dramatic Noir Desir reflects the desire to impress the elegance of marble into an interior design project, evoking an opulent aesthetic. Breaking up the dark colour is only the soft movement of the veining in an ivory palette, graphic elements that enhance the noble material of Italian tradition so artfully translated by the technological innovation of Laminam.

Staircase at the Fedele Mode store in Naples (Italy) in Noir Desir Bocciardato - I Naturali collection

We would like to close with the words of Claudio Silvestrin from Claudio Silvestrin Architects that perfectly sum up what we just said: “Fashion retail interior design invites you to buy and also suggests how to look, how to show yourself; it even points to the products and chooses for you”.