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The Art of Retail. How Art is Influencing Physical Retail Around The World

Art is having a real moment in retail right now. From new store openings to in-store installations and even branded exhibitions

Art is having a real moment in retail right now. From new store openings to in-store installations and even branded exhibitions, we’ll show you a few of the best examples from around the world right now.

IKEA’s Interactive Maze

Swedish retailer IKEA is focusing on the experience of leaving home for the first time in its Milan Design Week exhibition called 1st, which was designed by architect Midori Hasuike and spatial designer Emerzon.

Milan’s Padiglione Visconti venue has been “transformed into an IKEA playground,” showcasing products and experiences that address leaving home for the first time.

Refy pop-up, Covent Garden, London

Cosmetic brand Refy launched a new pop-up called The Exhibition for London Fashion Week.

The style is minimalist and brutalist, with metal featuring in the fixtures and fittings, and throughout the product offerings, from steel cups and saucers, to chrome hair accessories and metal logos on clothing.

The theme of the pop-up is anchored around a sculpture to signal inclusion and the idea of humans as art. Images of glistening body parts in black and white are displayed across the space. Customers can purchase products from the Refy range, such as clothing and accessories, alongside a few bespoke items, including a metallic dress and cutout coat.

Leica, Meatpacking District, New York

Camera brand Leica has launched its new flagship in New York.

The flagship is designed to be a space to appeal to the city’s photographers and creatives. When entering, visitors can expect to find the full range of Leica cameras and accessories, as well as the new laser TV, Cine 1. The store also contains a gallery, which displays exhibitions from a variety of photographers, from established to up-and-coming.

On the next floor, photographers can gain inspiration from a library of photography books, curated by photographers. There is also studio space available to test a range of Leica products and services.

Anya Mart pop-up, Pont Street, London

The Village, the shopping space from Anya Hindmarch, has a new pop-up, the Anya Mart, which was open at the start of April 2024.

The store resembles a retro supermarket or corner shop, with retro colours and nostalgic designs.

Customers can purchase a number of Anya Hindmarch products, such as limited edition scented candles, tote bags, keyrings and other items. The scented candles incorporate the aroma of iconic food items, such as Kellogg’s, Heinz and Fanta. There are also other fun products inspired by the corner shop, such as quirky patterned cleaning products and shopping lists.

The Mini Universal Bag was made available exclusively at the pop-up and has already sold out.

Acqua Di Parma, Sincheon, Seoul

Perfume brand Acqua Di Parma has launched a new café in the Lotte World Tower.

The space, called Yellow Café, combines Italian and Korean aesthetics, and was designed by Dorothée Meilichzon. The store is inspired by the design of monuments and its own bottle shape, with curved arches along the fixtures and fittings, with the bright yellow interior reflective of the Memphis movement.

The kitchen area houses all the brand’s perfume bottles and products, alongside crockery, while a large white stone table contains diffusers and testers. Customers can relax at a range of brightly coloured yellow, white and blue tables.

LN-CC, Dalston, London

A reopening from LN-CC is a welcome sight to London this month, as the designer retailer closed during COVID.

The store has an artistic new look including themed rooms in different colours. A bright red entrance contains music and lifestyle products. Cobalt is an angular space of blue and industrial steel which displays a collection of streetwear, chunky boots and paint-splattered bags. 

For a broader range of accessories the customer can visit Midtarsal, an orange, smooth and curved space with layered fittings resembling a rock cave. Atrium looks like a vast network of plants and has green sculptures connected via clothing rails. The open sculptures display small accessories.

More clothing can be found in Callisto, a roughly textured natural space that has vivid purple openings to display items. Finally, L8TE, a large space that has the appearance of colour-changing corrugated iron, is an area for brands to hold new product launches and pop-ups.

Gibson Garage, Westminster, London

Legendary guitar brand Gibson has launched its first flagship outside of the US in London, with ribbon cutting by legendary musicians Jimmy Page, Brian May and Tony Iommi.

The store is designed to be an immersive experience, with over 300 guitars on display at a range of prices. The lower levels of the store contain a stage for live performances and other activities with musicians. There are also some secret hidden rooms: a VIP bar with a sofa and instruments accessible via a door in a phone box, and a collection of rare guitars in the Vault, accessible via a moving bookcase.

It will also host the Gibson Gallery, a collection of photography and art featuring British musicians. The first exhibition is from Gered Mankowitz, who has photographed a number of musicians from The Rolling Stones to Elton John.

YA-MAN, Ginza, Tokyo

A fusion of art, tech and beauty is on offer from skincare brand YA-MAN and its new flagship in Ginza.

Visitors to the store are greeted by an eye-catching glass structure in the middle of the store, which contains colour-changing LED lights like a cross between science fiction and a party. Beyond the LED lighting, a range of high-tech items to treat the skin are offered, alongside an array of traditional beauty products.

For customers interested in a more intense beauty treatment, the serene second floor contains individual pods where a range of beauty devices can be accessed. There is also a VIP area, containing white and gold fixtures and fittings, set away from the other customers.

Whilst retail once influenced art in the sense of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, now art is influencing retail. It will be interesting to see how this continues to unfold with the advent of branded exhibition spaces and museums. Watch this space!