You’ll always receive strong support from us for store interiors where the merchandise is allowed to shine. Where the experience of discovering the items on display isn’t a fake pasted-over or forced-“experience” but a true, intelligent discovery of the compelling features of the product.
Many store designers seem to be trying a bit too hard to create those much-praised experiences and they end up with an environment that is interesting once and then just old news.
With a product such as wine the options are many. Even allowing the fact that the product is generally in a universally homogenous package – a bottle – there is definitely a story behind each wine, some more compelling than others.
You could immerse the guest in stories about the terroir, the cru, the vintage or the vineyard. You could go on and on about the taste, pairings, seasonal differences and so on.
But we’ve seen all that a hundred times over. Tasting rooms are popping up everywhere, to the point of losing all meaning. High-end apartment buildings now come with their tasting rooms. You have the garage, the spa, the library, the pool and the tasting room. Talk about needing some differentiation or ending up commoditized like fast-food stores or gas stations!
More and more our attention has recently been drawn back to minimalism, to more stark environments, to less fake theater and meaningless embellishment, and more smart enticement.
Portugal Vineyards concept store in Porto, Portugal has a lot going for it in this regard. The designers at Porto Architects have taken everything else away except the wine bottles.
And although the overall whiteness veers toward eerie and spray-painted, there’s no question you know what you are meant to focus on in the 90 square-metre (969 sq. ft) store.
The curved interior walls lead the guest to the tasting zone and the terraced display shelves allow the focal displays to be changed easily.
The 360 degree view allows the guest to see all of the options at once, and allows the staff to interact with the guests freely, rather than being behind a counter or hidden from view.
A curved counter with a tablet gives virtual access to the warehouse where the most and least known Portuguese wines are located.
What we really like most about this store is the fact that it puts not just the product on centre stage, it puts the staff in charge. Unless you are going to sell wine self-serve-style off the shelves just like any other wine store, then why not employ the most knowledgeable staff and then let them shine.
We believe in independent retail. But to thrive, independents need to stop trying to imitate the “big guys” and go back to embracing what has always made a smaller store compelling: Intelligently curated product and knowledgeable staff in an environment that lets both shine. Tuija Seipell