Challenging Belgian retailers to raise the bar: that is the mission of interior designer Jan Geysen from PUUR. “Do not underestimate the consumer. It could be a little more ambitious. ” got it apple† Jumbo and perfume already means.
“Steve Jobs spent an entire year designing and improving the very first Apple store every Thursday with a team of lighting specialists and designers. They even built a full-size mock-up in an industrial hall before the store went on sale. It is still a fantastic example “, says Jan Geysen, founder and chief designer of PUUR.
He recently designed a store for the perfumery Parfuma in Antwerp that does not look like classic perfumery. The interior got a complex international look, to make the dealer future-proof. “It is our ambition: to give Belgian retailers the opportunity to take a step forward so that they can measure up to what is happening internationally. This is what we as designers need to cause: We want to challenge retailers to raise the bar. We want to put more ambition into it. It no longer costs time or budget: Being innovative does not have to be expensive, but you must dare to do that thought exercise. ”
This process takes place in co-creation: “50% of the design is made by the customer. Knowledge is with the dealer: together we develop a ‘future-proof’ concept. We keep the consumer in mind: why go to a store when you can order everything from your bed? Look at the Apple stores: you can easily order these products online or from retailers, but the stores are their identities. “
“For Parfuma, we did a thorough analysis of international brands, looked at stores around the world to look for the best concept together. It is co-creation: their opinion is as important as ours. Together we have designed a store with its own strong identity. This gives the business a boost, though online history continues to grow. While many perfumeries are a shop-in-shop story where the brands take over the store, here it is the other way around: the brands fit into the Parfuma style. We have created peace of mind so that the brands get their due better. ”
Do not underestimate the consumer
As a dealer, you still want to establish your brand, Geysen believes. A flagship store plays its role. “See what Jumbo now with its first City store on Teniersplaats in Antwerp: it’s unpacking. They may not be able to calculate it with the rents in the best location, but the mark is there, everyone has seen it. ” Do not underestimate the consumer: they travel and have access to the whole world via their smartphone. “But few stores in Belgium give me a wow feeling. That we are experiencing difficult times now should not be an excuse. Perfume sells little things. Even in times of inflation and war, people still want to buy a new fragrance. “
So why is it that Belgian retailers show some reluctance to collaborate with external designers? “Maybe they’re afraid the designer will draw a store that looks good but doesn’t work.” But that’s not how it works, he emphasizes: “In 2022, a store must not only look good, the identity and functionality must also be 100% correct. Retailers have their own ideas, but they are not able to turn them into a spatial design. That’s our job. We are based on an in-depth analysis: where are you? How do you work? Who is your target audience? How is the flow in the store? Which products convert the most? Should you put it in front or behind? These are interesting conversations. “
Mirror and sound base
The vision of an external partner can also be refreshing for dealers with their own interior design team. “As an external agency, we are a mirror or a sounding board. What can you say to your CEO as an internal employee? How creative can and must you be when you are employed? Do you look at international developments? To other sectors? For us, such an internal team is a very interesting discussion partner. We like to be challenged, we like to raise the bar. In fact, we are best at something we do not know anything about yet: when we have to dive into it with a kind of fresh, naive look. ”
Jan Geysen will explain how PUUR takes up the challenge of making dealers future-proof at the RetailDetail Congress on 28 April in Antwerp, in a duo presentation with Caroline Breckpot from Parfuma. The Retail Design Support Act also presents cases from La Bottega, Xandres and the Retail Design Lab. The evening plenary program brings Rainpharma, Alibaba, Zalando and RetailDetail founder Jorg Snoeck with the presentation of his latest book The Future of Shopping: Re-Set Re-Made Re-tail. You can order tickets via this link.