Retail Environments And Store Designs We Wish We’d Done.

Posted on September 12, 2018 by Carm McCormick

Retail Environments And Store Designs We Wish We’d Done.

Posted on September 12, 2018 by Carm McCormick

When you’re privileged to be part of a tight-knit retail community, it’s alright to be green with envy… here are some projects that impress us (and why).

The world is a really big place. And since we can’t be a part of each and every amazing project, there are retail environment projects and retail store designs that we come across and think to ourselves, “I wish we had a chance to be a part of that.” Factors like engineering, tech and data considerations, material usage, use of space, floorplanning, and custom fixture design are all crucial elements when developing and executing the perfect space, so let’s take a look at some of the crème de la crème.

Kumoto Restaurant

By Esrawe Studio + Rojkind Arquitectos

Photo by Jamie Navarro
Photo by Jaime Navarro

Taking a cue from the Japanese bento box (serving a meal in a cluster of wooden boxes on a tray), these designers tapped into simplicity, intimacy and uncluttered lines appropriate for Asian cuisine. From the organic materials in the wraparound envelope to the centrepiece fixtures – and right down to sake containers, collection vessels and tableware – the integration is subtle yet superb.

OUR THOUGHTS: We love the tie to the heritage of Japanese cuisine with the interpretation and modernization of the bento box. The combination of light woods and brass let the darker pieces anchor the space and carry the compartmentalization of the bento box theme.

BXP Burger & Grill

By FAL Design Estrategico

Photo by Vitor Reis
Photo by Vitor Reis

The pop of a hot colour combined with strong graphics makes this takeout locale the perfect fit for Sao Paulo, Brazil.

OUR THOUGHTS: We applaud the play of the geometry ie. introducing it into the burger graphic is very cool. Small space equals big impact. Also the way they don’t shy away from using big bold brand graphics even in a restricted space. Usually, there’s a fear of using that much real estate for one sign/message, but it works so well here and contributes extremely well to the overall dominance of the experience.


Part of Italy’s largest co-operative supermarket group, Alleanza 3.0; developed by Zurich-based Interstore; implemented by Schweitzer Project

Photo by Daniel Horn
Photo by Daniel Hord

Turning personal shopping into an experience in-the-round has been the ambitious goal of this hypermarket concept of this group that fuses small, local food co-operatives with a beauty shop, florist, optician, housewares, even a jeweller. Think modern design with a high degree of flexibility that puts the focus on the merchandise, and you’ve captured the spirit.

OUR THOUGHTS: This project is interesting first, because it’s basically a big box so common in North America, but not as common in European cities. They’ve taken a novel approach to make a large store more digestible to the consumer navigating it by cutting it up into bite size pieces so you feel like your entering and leaving different areas. It encourages exploring. The use of standard fixtures that have been dressed up (some custom) is a successful demonstration of how to marry custom and commodity, A solid example of how to prioritize where to spend and where to save. Notice a completely different philosophy in how to treat the front of the store that’s lined with product [cosmetics] to sell vs. checkouts.


Photo by Allbirds
Photo by Allbirds

How the world’s most comfortable shoe is sold when you’ve eschewed the industry-standard petroleum-based sole and embraced Mother Nature’s alternative, as reflected by the Soho location. It’s truly a one-way flight!

OUR THOUGHTS: The use of natural materials ties in and reinforces so boldly their product values. Even with a limited, exclusive selection of products on offer, the experience screams volumes. This place should be on everyone’s list to visit on the next trip to NYC.

Hudson’s Bay Company’s Amsterdam Location

By CallisonRTKL

Photo by Business Wire

How the Canadian retailer has tailored highly customized and localized fashion, services and brands to the Dutch culture and design landscape. Pop-up areas, a blend of local and national brands as well as highly interactive spaces are just some of the strategies employed by the design team. Contemporary, clean interiors, exposed ceilings along with an elemental colour-and-materials palette have been carefully integrated into these rejuvenated buildings. Add to that, cooking demos, a new restaurant and heritage shop and consumers will take notice.

OUR THOUGHTS: Definitely an event to experience. We love this for bridging the line in “gallery.” The architecture alone draws consumers to spend the time walking through –
working through it and lounging along the way.


Photo by B8ta
Photo by B8ta

These stores are designed specifically for discovering, trying and buying innovative new products and it shows. Every detail of their model, from a software platform to an expert retail team, serves to open pathways to discovery and purchase. By removing barriers for both brands and customers, they’re aiming to make bricks-and-mortar retail as easy as the online experience. And with ten locations scattered around the U.S. and a partnership with dozens of Lowes stores, b8ta is taking retail to the stratosphere.

OUR THOUGHTS: We love the fact that consumers can touch and feel everything, even if the retailer collects data on every time something is touched and sells that data back. The environment is as clean; the experience as seamless as an Apple store without them selling their own company. Here’s a great example of the retailer being part of the sale.


Sometimes the grass is greener on the other side of the pond. But at CBSF, when we stop, take a step back and look at the projects we’ve had the opportunity to work on we’re reminded how amazingly challenging and creative our work really is. So, we applaud those who help push our industry forward – those who find new ways to be creative in a world that’s recycling ideas – when everything’s been tried and done before. Because in the end, an extraordinary customer-experience is what we all strive for.

We recommend that you look at others’ work, get inspired and then put your head down and get to work. And if you’d like to talk about your own possibilities, give us a shout.