November 8th, 2016

Design 4Retail

Creating retail sanctuaries that facilitate a sense of wellbeing and foster emotional connections between brand and consumer.

Article contents:

  • What is a concept store?
  • Why are they important for a brand?
  • Our Top 5 concept stores

Before delving into our current top five concept stores around the world, firstly, let’s take a deeper dive into the definition of a concept store. It’s a term that’s been thrown around for some time now, but what exactly is one and why are they so important in the wider retail industry?

Concept stores go beyond the traditional retail format and are spaces that present a carefully curated and unique selection of products. Concept stores take on a specific theme or ‘concept’ that offers customers a place to not only buy goods but experience discovery, entertainment, and expert services. Often, they evoke a lifestyle that appeals to a specific target audience and promote aspirational features.

Concept stores are often a brand’s first store and so they are naturally offering their customers with something new from the brand. They enable shoppers to interact with brands in a way that cannot be replicated online, as well as boosting brand awareness, trailing new products and increasing purchasing confidence. With ‘52% of consumers saying they’re more likely to engage with brands who exhibit in-store experiential moments’ (Insider Trends) concept stores are only going to be more prevalent.


Fashion bible, Marie Claire, has moved from paper to retail with the launch of ‘Fabled’, a glossy space that encompasses all the beauty tips and fashion inspo the magazine is best known for. Often branded as the future of beauty and cosmetic retail, the two-storey store takes a step back from the norm with less focus on till points and selling but more emphasis on customer experience and interaction. It’s full of content from insights into the latest cosmetic trends to tips on finding the perfect make-up and educational advice regarding beauty care. The store aligns the convenience of online shopping with the tactility of bricks-and-mortar environment through a high-gloss aesthetic, complimented by the colours of the various brands. Although Fabled’s focus is to promote analogue, digital interactive elements are filtered throughout the store to link the real-world experiences to Fable’s online presence – using personalised content to offer a unique experience to each customer. Definitely worthy of a spot on our top five picks.

The Store: Berlin

During our recent visit to Berlin for the annual IFA Show, we carried out valuable retail trend and insight research which included a visit to The Store X Soho House. From the minute we walked in, we described the store as having a ‘place to be’ vibe. The wonderfully charming store is a definite cultural hub with a powerful combination of retail, art, and hospitality. This new hybrid retail concept is both part of and separate from Soho House allowing visitors to feel a sense of exclusivity while also being completely accessible. The fashion brands represented include niche luxury design and household names and the space also features an inhouse barber and beauty parlour, presenting the store as an all-encompassing destination. A quirky but superb industrial-luxe concept.


This next concept store we’ve chosen is slightly out-of-character based off our definition of the term but thought it a beautifully curated concept to feature in our top five. Dyson’s store is not designed entirely around a new theme but instead focuses on their own products. The monochrome store is designed to encourage visitors to interact with the Dyson products through a simple ‘life and learn’ concept that allows for self-discovery while also creating a stunning 3D store design. By picking up and testing the products in such a dynamic and user-friendly space present an opportunity for further understanding of what appears to be just an everyday product.

Costa Coffee

This well-known coffee shop isn’t only featured here because of our love for coffee, it’s also earned the right to be part of our top five thanks to the premium revamp in London. A coffee shop concept only needs to be simple, functionally, but it’s the additional aesthetic features that make it a destination. Within this elevated concept, the addition of hand-drawn illustrations and polished gold finishes invites a warm tone to the brand’s signature red whilst the open-plan barista’s station allows customers to feel involved in the coffee-making process. The seating has also taken on a more restaurant/bar-esque approach using marble inspired countertops and high seating to give the concept a modern and contemporary feel.

A concept, but not really a store! The well-known online furniture retailer,, have opened pop-ups throughout various cities and have now launched a showroom in Soho, but’s not your typical look-and-purchase store. The brand has committed to a more holistic, omnichannel concept that encourages visitors to purely explore and test the products in a variety of inspirational room sets before purchasing online. Although this concept store oddly aims for customer to leave empty handed, the Soho showroom does feature a stunning postcard wall with take-away cards for over 500 products. Create a wish list on a Made tablet, touch and test materials or just find inspiration – it’s a concept store that we can get on board with.

The Future of concept stores

Concept stores have been around since the 90’s so it’s not an entirely new concept but the level of these stores is ever increasing. The ease of shopping online has overtaken our curiosity to step outside and explore the world, but would you swap endlessly scrolling online for meaningful experiences that stay with you? Concept stores provide just that, and we predict that these stores will become hyperphysical spaces that stimulate our senses and leave a lasting impression among consumers. Looking to design a concept store that creates hype within the industry?

Let’s talk.