Poland – Furniture Polish
Poland may not be at the top of many people's must-visit retail destinations but, as Karl McKeever brand director at visual merchandising consultancy Visual Thinking found out, there are some great surprises in store - particularly when it comes to home furnishings.
For those seeking something new and a little different in 2009, Poland is an up-and-coming retail market with some great surprises in store. With a number of leading international and home-grown brands looking to set up shop, it's one trip worth putting on your shopping list.
The place to bookmark is a mall for home retailers called Domoteka. Located on the Park Handlowy, Targowek retail park in Warsaw, it opened to customers in late 2006. With an impressive range of home furnishing retailers, it is the destination to head to for all things domestic. As the first of its kind in Poland, it could be a mall to watch in 2009.
The mall features the most comprehensive range of middle to high-end home furnishings available in Poland. With 17,000 square metres of retail space, the mall has a mix of 80 recognised international and Polish retailers, such as Bo Concept, Hoft (Habitat), Villeroy and Boch, Wedgwood and Sia. A large modern Ikea is opposite the mall, giving consumers even more choice and an opportunity to really make a day of it.
The impressive glazed façade, spacious reception area, block-wood and all-natural interior finishes, communicate the mall's ambition to be the number one destination for furniture retailing in the region.
Arranged over two floors, the central area features retail space configured on angles - moving away from the formulaic 'runway' shopping experience of most retail malls. Stores are grouped together according to function in the house, to make logical connections and easy choices for the consumer.
Design plays an important part in the success of this centre. High quality finishes have been used throughout, making a bold statement about contemporary design in its own right. Each brand has invested significantly to provide distinctive and ground-breaking retail design, and stunning visual merchandising solutions - the likes of which have not been seen in the Polish market before.
Cube is all about chairs and really knows how to make the product the hero. Windows display a wide array of modern seating options, which are just right for the mall's middle to high-end customer profile. The combination of floor-to-ceiling merchandising and chequer-boarded displays utilises space, projects the wide range available and achieves a striking visual look.
The Cube store design and service area cleverly reinforce and play on the brand name. Metal and glass are used together with horizontal and vertical linear lighting to produce a clean modern interior and exterior finish.
Simple, well-executed focal points are positioned at each entrance, with products vertically merchandised from small to large on the walls. Complementary products are grouped enabling customers to easily choose between ranges. This is a good example of how a small space can be logically merchandised, but still achieve maximum visual impact.
Zone uses a combination of stark black fixtures, high-level lifestyle imagery, branding, spotlighting and polished screed flooring to communicate its lifestyle credentials.
The store groups colour co-ordinated ranges together on mid-floor fixtures to punctuate black fittings, inspiring customers to shop. Set against the merchandising, specific product ranges such as tea and coffee are grouped on walls, making more functional products easier to shop for.
Windows are split either side of the entrance to contemporary and traditional lighting. Uncluttered and well-executed, hero products are displayed in the window space with one product range per window.
In-store, the shop has resisted the temptation to fill the space full of lights (offering customers too much choice and not enough differentiation) - clear segmentation between traditional and contemporary lights follows through from the windows. Ranges are grouped together with enough space for customers to feel at ease when shopping.
The 'Lirio' brand has a strong presence within the store, occupying the main focal point (a striking red fixture) and the mid-floor fixtures. The location and light positioning on these fixtures is well-planned and executed.
A light circuit set on a timer is triggered every 15 seconds, turning lights on and off to change the store ambience and enable customers to see the different effects. Definitely not your average department store lighting section!
Vinotti has a bold and distinctive product range set in a stylish, spacious store. An effective, simple, linear room-set, segmented by wooden slats and plant displays achieves a clean layout. This store is all about the product - large African face portraits provide a bold splash of colour, linking the furniture design influence and bringing it to life.
The bedroom sets in this store are all about opulence and luxury. Stylish and in keeping with the mall concept, the store moves away from the over-used 'white box' formula to achieve a visually bold statement. Confidently handled and well-executed, the store provides inspiration that high-end customers expect, and more.
Although accessories are kept to a minimum, they are made to count. Cohesive colour stories, informal balance and consistently located product branding all work seamlessly together. You almost forget that the headboard on the bed is rattan!
This store offers a bespoke room design service for living areas, kitchens and bedrooms. Store design is therefore critical to communicate its design credentials to its customers, and they achieve it exceptionally well.
Divided into room-sets on the right and glazed design studios on the left, customers are able to easily navigate the space.
Finishes and inspirational room designs are displayed - however, the most striking feature is probably the focal point wall of available wood finishes. This shows choice but also acts as a divider between design and retail.
Overall, the Domoteka mall offers a convenient destination for high-end, high-style homewares and furniture to suit a range of budgets. And with a handy café offering local snacks and gourmet coffees inside, there's no excuse not to visit if you're planning new ways of accessorising existing rooms or furnishing a new home.
For those just visiting, it gives an opportunity to see how developing a specialist mall with a distinct focus, is made all the more successful through investing in great design, visual merchandising and retail standards - something which Warsaw can be proud of.