After his recent trip to Tokyo, greater group's Asia CEO Ryan Arrowsmith returned with dozens of photos from innovative and forward-thinking retailers who are going above and beyond to creative unique and engaging customer experiences. Here are a few highlights from the trip.
THE WORLD'S BIGGEST STARBUCKS RESERVE ROASTERY
The Starbucks Reserve Roastery Tokyo in the elegant Nakameguro district opened its doors in February 2019, making its mark as the biggest of its kind in the world. This is the coffee giant's fifth Reserve Roastery worldwide, taking an approach of localisation to embrace local design while maintaining the characteristic features of their coffee shops across the globe.
The Tokyo installation is decked out with washi paper lanterns and more than 2 000 copper cherry blossoms to complement the origami-inspired ceiling and the centre piece 17-metre-tall copper cask, rising up from the ground floor all the way through to the fourth floor. The cask features more than a hundred copper plates that have been hand-hammered in the traditional Japanese tsuchime technique.
The cask is one of those multi-functional design features that are trending the retail design world now. It's a dramatic and theatrical focal point but also serves a practical purpose as the resting space for the coffee beans to allow the gas built up during the roasting process to escape before it can be brewed or packaged.
The roastery stretches over four floors, from the main coffee bar on the first floor serving a unique selection of coffees and other signature drinks, to the full-service Arriviamo bar on the third floor where visitors can order coffee- and tea-infused cocktails. This roastery celebrates the unique aesthetics of Tokyo and serves as an excellent example of successful localisation without losing any of the brand's 'personality'. We love this!
Photos: Starbucks Reserve
NEW BALANCE'S TOKYO FLAGSHIP STORE
(greater group team on tour in Japan)
Over the last couple of years, New Balance opened a handful of flagship stores across the world, of which the Tokyo store is the largest. Greater group has worked with New Balance on 8 of their boutiques globally including the Harajuku flagship, Ginza and Roppongi stores in Tokyo.
Apart from a massive range of running apparel for men, women and kids, the Harajuku flagship houses a cafe where shoppers can grab a coffee and a healthy snack. The store regularly hosts fitness events, giving it the feel of a gym. There are even shower facilities where you can freshen up after doing a yoga class!
(New Balance Harajuku flagship)
(New Balance Roppongi 19:06 store)
Located in the Roppongi district of midtown Tokyo, the “New Balance Roppongi 19:06" store features a new lifestyle concept designed by the greater group Asia team in collaboration with New Balance specifically for the Japanese market. A drastic change from the traditional, it features simple, linear, and contemporary aesthetics that can easily be transformed into an event or product launch space as the floor fixtures disappears (or fits) into the walls. The store design was inspired by the Japanese concept of “MA”—the consciousness of the void between two structural parts. Strategically placed lights create separation between the ceiling and the walls, while wooden walls and sharp concrete flooring provide contrast representing raw performance.
(Video: New Balance Roppongi 19:06 store)
TIFFANY'S @ CAT STREET
Tiffany & Co's first concept store in Japan gives new meaning to the 'breakfast at Tiffany's'. This wonderland of a store presents a brand new way to experience the magical world of Tiffany's, featuring six floors of curated products, exclusive designs and an innovative Style Studio offering custom engraving.
The Tiffany Cafe @ Cat Street cafe located on the top floor of the store is a beautiful space where shoppers can kick back with a cappuccino and a croissant (in true Audrey Hepburn style!) before continuing to browse the iconic pieces of jewellery that has made this brand so famous. This cafe is only the second of its kind in the world (Tiffany's first cafe opened in New York in 2017).
The 'cat' in the name derives from the location of Tokyo bustling Cat Street and unfortunately doesn't refer to any real in-store cats. But Breakfast at Tiffany's fans can reminisce about the memory of Holly Golightly and her nameless cat while taking in the splendour of this one-of-a-kind cafe's architecture and design features.
The futuristic building in characteristic 'Tiffany Blue' makes it stand out among the neighbouring stores on Cat Street. Inside, each of the six levels are uniquely designed to represent the different ranges of Tiffany's products, from jewellery and accessories to homeware collections and fragrances.
We can't wait to see this fun concept be introduced to more locations across the world!
TOKYO MIDTOWN CHANDON BLOSSOM LOUNGE
This is the 12th edition of an annual event to celebrate springtime in particular its famous cherry blossom season. In addition to the 200 meter long street Sakura-dori that are decked out with outdoor lounges and illuminated cherry blossom trees, the highlight of this year's pop-up is the Chandon Blossom Lounge, a collaboration between The Ritz-Carlton Tokyo and premium sparkling wine brand Chandon, where we were lucky enough to enjoy a glass of rosé in the insta-worthy Chandon Suite, the popular tent area, featuring a larger-than-life Chandon champagne bottle.
Step inside the WAREHOUSE Minamihoriestore in Osaka and you will be awe at the delightful and quirky visual merchandising. One advantage for smaller niche retailers is their nimbleness to engage and excite customers through creative retail formats that relates with the local clientele. As you wander through this converted warehouse, you discover that it's actually an eyewear shop that also houses designers, novelists, bicycle builders and aroma therapists. They are encouraged to use this space to freely express their creations which tie in with the store concept to "express your values through the glasses " which blend in as part of the props in the various themed rooms.
RIMOWA'S FIRST STAND-ALONE STORE
The luxury baggage brand, Rimowa, opened their first stand-alone store in Tokyo in the beginning of 2019. Located in the heart of the tourist-packed Ginza district, this store is specifically designed to cater for an international market.
The design is a blend of minimalist Western features while drawing from traditional Japanese craft aesthetics. A focal point in the design is the spiral staircase placed against a backdrop of woven baskets that seamlessly connect the two floors. The overall design reminds of Japanese rock gardens with flowing yet dynamic lines that leads shoppers from the first floor up the spiraling staircase to the second floor.
We love the warm atmosphere that merges such a diverse range of design elements and cultural inspirations. The combination of Western and Japanese, the contrast between flowing and angular and the composition of modern and traditional: unexpected but somehow perfectly working together to create a beautiful, aesthetically attractive space that brings the brand's personality to life across borders.
GALAXY'S LARGEST SHOWCASE STORE
Samsung, who has collaborated with greater group previously on their flagship stores in Sydney and Melbourne, launched their largest Galaxy showcase store to date in the popular Harajuku shopping neighbourhood in Tokyo. Housed in an ultra-modern six-floor building with a striking entrance design by the Japanese designer and artist, Tokujin Yoshioka, the flagship’s design reflects the cutting-edge technology Galaxy is so acclaimed for.
On the first floor, visitors are welcomed by a massive LED screen where Galaxy’s latest smart products are showcased. Move to the next floor and you’ll find a cosy café where parents can enjoy a cup of coffee while their kids explore the video games and interactive installations on the next floors. The third floor is occupied by an interactive exhibit that tells the story of Galaxy’s history and partnerships.
Samsung did a great job delivering a store that drives on digital innovation and experiential methods to keep us engaged and entertained.
LUSH'S DIGITAL SHOPPING EXPERIENCE
LUSH Shinjuku is the brand's biggest store across all of Asia, and of its largest world-wide. Known for their fragrant treat-yourself products like scented bath bombs and luxurious bath oils, this feel-good brand's massive Tokyo flagship store is a sensory-driven experience.
The Tokyo roll-out is LUSH's first trial of a digital shopping experience, implementing technological innovation to showcase the their wide range of beauty and lifestyle products. Keeping with the urban landscape of Tokyo's modern, almost futuristic Shinjuku district, the store boasts with features like a giant LED screen, neon-lit background designs, touch sensors, video projections and digitalised pictograms.
Employing these measures of digital tech enables the brand to operate across borders of language and culture, perfectly fitting in against the backdrop of Tokyo's international diversity.
Interactive shopping experiences that encourage brand-customer-engagement are always enthusiastically received by us, both as shoppers as well as retail space designers. Excited to see future digital innovations from LUSH!
Photos: Ikidane Nippon
Disclaimer: Credit to the rightful owners for pictures and media used above.
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