Retail therapy

Anything could be waiting round the next bend at the refurbished Karstadt department store in Germany, where customer experience is king

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Small, specialist boutiques have taken on the grand old-timers of the retail sector. In recent years, large department stores have been feeling the pinch and watching their business gradually being eroded away by these newcomers with their more intimately scaled retail spaces.

Karstadt, the second-largest retailer in Germany, was in a similar position to many other department stores around the world when its directors approached designer Jordan Mozer. Mozer, with his experience in entertainment design, has been observing the trend towards shopping becoming an entertainment activity in its own right.

"Shopping needs to be entertaining, not just functional or a chore. The old Karstadt had exactly the same layout, style and decor on all three of its levels and in all departments," Mozer says.

"Because it was sterile, it didn't encourage impulse buying."

Mozer refitted 42,000m² of retail space on all three floors of the store, using mainly inexpensive materials, lots of lighting effects, colour and form to create the new look he was after.

"Our objective was to make the store into an engaging and exciting experience so customers would want to return."

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Now all three floors of the building are redesigned into many smaller spaces, and every area has its own distinctive personality, which has been specifically designed to suit the products on display.

"The aim was to create moods that relate to the products displayed in each zone of the store, and to the style and age of the likely shoppers. The purpose of this is to ensure customers are always engaged by their shopping experience," says Mozer.

Each level is designed as a street with rooms opening off it and a town square in the centre. To add a sense of excitement, space on each floor is set aside for performers, product demonstrations, fashion parades and exhibits. Flexible lighting and furniture mean these areas can be utilised in a variety of ways. Plus, every floor has a selection of seating areas, coffee bars and restaurants.

Curved corridors ensure that as customers progress through the store, continual surprises await them.

On the ground level, which is dedicated to homewares, warm wood finishes and low lighting help to create the right mood.

One floor up in the fashion department, soft, sensuous curves predominate. Columns, light fixtures and seats are large, circular and soft in colour and texture. Displays are laid out to be intimate and inviting. These boutiques show a variety of clothing from designer labels to inexpensive ranges and are animated by regularly changing collections of perfumes, scarves and handbags. The design on the floor represents the woven patterns of textiles.

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Hard-edged, rectangular shapes create a more rugged, masculine look in the menswear area of this floor.

On the top floor, angular pillars over the entrance to the sporting goods department add a dynamic element to the display, echoing the arches around the perimeter of a sports stadium. Bright, white lights create a slick, high-tech look for the electronics area. Children's toys are another draw card on the third level.

Overall, the new store features 42 collections, all with their own individual designs and display elements. This ensures that many different types of people now feel able to connect with the store.

"In the first six weeks of business after the first phase of renovations, business increased by 40%," says the designer.

Credit list

Lighting, fixture and flooring design
Jordan Mozer, Mozer & Associates, Chicago
Co-ordinating designer
PG Licht
Boehl Architects

Story by: Trendsideas

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