It’s London Design Week, so that means lots of creative and experiential exhibitions or installations across town. In particular I’m looking forward to an industry trend forecasting event Conscious Colour this evening hosted by the Unique Style Platform (USP) and Surface Matter people, and taking place within east London’s #MakerMile design route in Hackney.
Alongside a joint installation (see image below) that ‘explores the latest developments in colour and materiality, looking at the importance of colour and surface in a new light,’ there will be trend presentations from both organisations, where all things colour and texture will be analysed in conjunction with USP’s view on upcoming seasonal fashion and material trends.
‘The key colour trends for A/W 18/19 will be brought to life through a combination of image and material, simultaneously presenting the latest innovations in surface and offering visual inspiration for anyone with an interest in colour,’ says Jane Kellock, founder of USP. Meanwhile Scott Campbell of Surface Matter will explore the latest trends in what materials can (and can’t) do for designers and creatives across the fields of architecture, fashion, retail and FMCG branding / packaging.
There seems to be lots of buzz about colour in retail right now – from ombre shades used for wayfinding in stores, to emblematic branding executions, to tonal visual merchandising displays. These are subliminal visual cues that brands can use to add a playful element to product displays and customers usually love the inspiration they provide. Here are a few examples of how retailers are using colour to help with storytelling, exploration and defining a sense of place.
Calvin Klein’s 205W39NYC
Calvin Klein’s new New York flagship store is drenched in sunshine yellow and is an ode to how #Insta-retail ready stores need to be in our visual culture-driven world. The Madison Avenue space re-opened in July and has gone from a stark and minimalist brand temple to a maximalist art-filled gallery that celebrates new creative director Raf Simons’ theme of Americana, which is central to the brand’s new design aesthetic. The new brand moniker, 205W39NYC is also a reference to the store location and is a strong statement in the name of destination retail marketing.
Simons worked with his long-time collaborator Sterling Ruby on the retail design concept, and by Ruby’s own admission he did not hold back on the store’s vision. ‘I’m taking the Calvin Klein flagship store from minimal to maximal; my design should be seen as a marker to celebrate the future of the brand,’ says Ruby. ‘I wanted the store to glow from within, representing a new day for Calvin Klein.’
Why it’s special: The effect is one of a retail interior that bursts with joy. In particular a shade of yellow called Delightful, by Benjamin Moore is applied from floor to ceiling, shelves and industrial looking scaffolding, that allows the eye to wander through the tall and ample retail space. Furthermore it serves as a backdrop for the flourishes of Americana themed artworks and motifs, handpicked by Sterling and Simons to embellish their joint design vision for the revived brand DNA, that has industrial spirit and cultural heritage at its heart.
Ombre at Arket
As I’ve mentioned before, I love H&M’s new sustainability ‘wardrobe essentials’ nuanced lifestyle retail concept, Arket. The visual merchandising displays feature primary pops of colour; tables, shelves and hanging rails are colour coordinated and they benefit from the neutral plus colour combinations.
In particular Arket has used ombre coloured curtains made from dyed cotton to tell the story of its organic cotton range of tees and circular woven knits.
Why it’s special: Here the wall of cotton and point of sale information does a great job of telling the story for this more technical process-driven merchandise range. While elsewhere in store the targeted use of colour in the product display visual merchandising underlines the brand’s tonal approach to colour in its collections.
GF Smith’s Marss Green
The world’s favourite colour was announced in summer 2017 as: ‘Marss Green’. This other-worldly sounding colour was dreamt up by British paper manufacturer, GF Smith in a collaboration between the specialist and Hull UK City of Culture, for a dedicated exhibition, Paper City, that aimed to promote the role of colour in the design industry. An online survey invited people from over 100 countries to choose their favourite colour via an on-screen, colour spectrum with the aim of promoting the value of colour across multiple age groups and cultures.
Why it’s special: Consumers react to colour in different ways. The Paper City project generated a diverse collection of cultural and geographical data that can be used for insights across future design projects and provides a platform to showcase new talent.
Colourful retail design is a hard thing to get right. But when brands experiment with tonal or even all over colourful expressions, the impact can be both powerful and emotional.
The USP x Surface Matter Conscious Colour installation is running from 18 September 2017 – 24 September 2017 at WeWork London Fields, 115 Mare Street, London E8 4RU