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Back to White

The white box aesthetic is increasingly being used in store design as retailers opt for a minimal, gallery-like environment to introduce a new concept or flagship store.

Store design has made a move towards organised minimalism, allowing the product to do the talking. With rapid developments in mobile and ecommerce, brands and retailers are under pressure to offer more to customers in store. To do this, retailers are going back to basics.

This white box look has a gallery aesthetic, making the product the focus as visual merchandising is stripped to the bare minimum. It has other big advantages such as improving product exposure and customer navigation.The white box look also goes hand in hand with new eco-friendly environments, such as at Zara in Rome, where motion detectors turn off lights.

The best newwhite box interiors
Zara’s new Rome flagship is the retailer’s 5,000th store and is also its most eco-efficient. The crisp white walls are softened by the store’s circular interior, while natural light is bounced off floor-to-ceiling white steel screens to brighten the interior. Black mannequins look dramatic against the white and make the product jump out.

Topshop’s new Edited project, in which its maternitywear section at its London Oxford Circus store has been transformed into a carefully edited boutique, has a stark gallery look, making the season’s key items the main focus. Edited allows time-poor customers to buy into seasonal styles quickly and easily, with the items standing out against the white interior.

British luxury brand Mulberry experimented with a new look and feel for its latest flagship store at 50 New Bond Street. The overall look is spacious and minimal, with fixtures and fittings including two main oak timber structures used to house footwear and handbags. These are freestanding and flexible to enable the brand to reinvent the gallery-style space each season.

At Chinese artisanal luxury brand Shang Xia’s new Shanghai store, the walls and ceiling are hung with hi-tech ‘memory’ fabric, resembling snowflakes or paper cuttings, which reflects and absorbs the light reflected off the wooden floor and stone facade. The brand’s ethos is built around the Asian philosophy of achieving harmony and balance in all things, which is reflected in the traditional craftsmanship used throughout the shopfit.

Alexander Wang has just opened its first flagship store in New York’s SoHo, featuring pristine white walls and oversized windows. The 3,500 sq ft space has chalky marble floors and brushed metal fixtures which help to create the minimal feel. The white box space is accented with structural elements such as a large iron cage for store installations and a faux-fur hammock, both of which maintain the feeling of space and freshness.

Top tips
Achieving the white box look

  • Create a sense of personal space within your retail destination
  • Introduce the white box design into areas of your store to highlight new collections or concept ideas
  • Allow the product offer to do the talking by highlighting seasonal key items and favoured colour stories against whitewashed walls
  • Look again at fixtures and fittings to see where organised, minimal space can be created to show off product to the best advantage
  • Use the gallery-like aesthetic to create a calm and relaxing, no-fuss shopping experience
  • Use minimal props and space-saving fixtures to improve customer navigation

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