Thursday, June 7, 2012


Showcasing small products like cosmetics, eyewear and footwear is always a challenge regardless of the size of a store. Many such retailers opt for a smaller store footprint, as there’s less to compete for a customer’s attention and rents are cheaper. But that comes with it’s own set of problems – bumping into other customers, bags knocking items off shelves and having nowhere to hide from the over-enthusiastic assistant’s greeting, when all you want to do is browse.

Premium Dutch footwear retailer, ShoeBaloo turned that practice on its head when they selected a huge 375sqm sized space back in 2006 for their Rotterdam store. To put that in perspective it’s up to four times the size of your average boutique shoe store.  A vast hall of mirrored ceiling and black flooring with mirrored topcoat reflects the walls – each lined with asymmetrical moulded alcoves wrapped in white leather. Ever-changing coloured light permeates through the translucent acrylic behind each alcove, providing a varying backdrop to highlight the footwear.

The alcoves in the front window perfectly frame each shoe. The dark space inside means there’s no interior lights distracting from the window feature. The glitter high top on a skateboard – simply one example of the clever VM. The central area is clear apart from the cash desk and a few black low height benches and display pods holding accessories. These are also lit from underneath making them appear as though floating. A few rows of discretely placed spots in the ceiling throw any additional light needed.

It’s clear that architects Meijer & van Schooten have taken inspiration from the art world when designing the store. Brands including Miu Miu, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Stella McCartney, Chloe, Prada and many more that are on offer are showcased like artefacts in a gallery. Each is valuable, coveted and given the appropriate space to be drooled over. This is how retailers should be planning stores –  a space that is true to the brand and shows the product in the best light, rather than looking like everyone else does because that’s the prescribed formula.


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