Design As a Marketing Tool
In the center of most big cities like New York, Paris or Tokyo, we encounter architectural work of art built among retail stores. Design is used as a marketing tool, offering prestige and elegance to the brands appearing between those building walls. The unique and conceptual spaces of Comme des Garçons or Yohji Yamamoto, for example, are clearly helping to keep the brands notorious. The enthusiasm around the Dover Street Market is also mainly caused by the personalized spaces of each of their stores.
In Montreal, this phenomenon is also growing in a lot of bars or restaurants designed by the ingenious eyes of firms like Zébulon Perron, Blazysgérard and Cabinet Braun-Braën. However, retail stores seem to be slower at investing in customer experience through design and architeucture. Stores like Michel Brisson or Cahier d’exercices, both designed by Saucier + Perrotte, are one of the few who pushed the envelope, mainly due to their owner's aesthetic sensibility rather than a retail tradition like we observe in other cities worldwide. The low number of conceptual stores could in part be explained by the fact that those stores are usually the products of wealthy companies selling products that are not necessarily in big demand in the city, but there might also be a difference in the way architecture and design are seen in Montreal. It seems like it might be less associated with prestige here than elsewhere.
Even so, in the last months, two particularly well-designed stores have opened in the Westmount and Mile-End neighbourhoods, proving the importance of space organization in retail. Those two stores have a unique identity resulting from the ingenious and passionate work of Alain Carle and Nature Humaine, two Montreal architecture firms. They were both realized to host products from the Australian company Aesop, a brand that plays an important role in the aesthetization of retail spaces all around the world.
Architecture and Branding
This noteworthy desire of aesthetization driven by the founder and director of Aesop, Dennis Paphitis, is also acting as a marketing strategy since as far as the birth of the company in 1987. The brand extended it’s popularity around the globe due to its complex and elegant image. Almost all traditional advertising techniques have been ignored to let ideas move along through an auto-generative communication system. The Westmount store is a good example of this method.
Since it owns one of the most well known selfie mirror in Montreal; engendering a great amount of walk-ins in the store and an outstanding presence on social network. Aesop propagation is the result of a mastered branding reflecting the philosophy of the company to which it seems to be pleasant to identify ourselves.
Aesop built its image, its capital and its force with the undoubtable quality of their products. The brand ideology is transmitted visually in a total way, not only with the elegant and minimalist packaging, but also through it’s presentation into unique environments. The director of the company is investing in architecture and design to bring more customers; and this brilliant idea is definitely working since Aesop now owns more than a hundred stores worldwide.
Authenticity and Experience
"We believe unequivocally that well-considered design improves our lives."
It is this mentality, already leading the conception of the products, that is conducting the creation of every Aesop store. Aesop is acting as a sponsor for local talents by choosing architects who already works in the places they decide to build while allowing spaces to be authentic mirrors of the existing life of each neighboorhood.
The Australian company rejects the traditional advertising techniques because it is driven by a duty going beyond retail. Even if products are the same everywhere, the environment, the history and the beauty accompanying each one of the space is unique and transforms the consumer's experience.
Aesop Stores Around the World
Head image: Aesop Kyoto by Japanese studio Simplicity