The Sweet Spot: When Retail Design is Modern but not Minimalist

Milan bakery interior by Daniela Colli

If I link particular emotions to a desert—warmth, vast open landscapes, solitude, quiet and stillness—the Milan bakery will coax the same feelings out of me, albeit to a lesser degree. These feelings partially displace ones of tight space and clutter I’d feel at an ordinary bakery.

Compared to this Milan bakery’s interior, a minimalist interior is a little cheaper and a lot less challenging* to design. A minimalist bakery would be clean, spare, and maybe even elegant. But because it doesn’t reference anything other than itself, it can’t contend with a modern-theatrical interior’s power to rouse emotions.

Are good feelings sufficient ROI?

Riddle me this: how might the bakery’s costly interior change consumer behavior? Ideally, this retail environment should (1) draw consumers into the shop, (2) hold them in the shop longer, (3) emotionally connect consumers to the shop, and (4) prompt them to tell others about the shop.

I recently posted that in a case like this, a shop’s decor gives consumers a positive first impression, but their good feelings diminish incrementally with each visit. Same-store repeat sales suffer. The solution is to integrate fun policies, games, or gimmicks into the bakery experience. These also allow fans to tell stories that will get passed on. For instance, the bakery might feature muffins from a different city each month. It’s silly, but consumers are more likely (and more able) to spread news of the Muffin-of-the-Month world showcase than the desert-like decor. Improving the product will yield better returns than improving the packaging (in this case, the interior design).

Bonus points to the shop that springs for both.

*Not that ease of design matters, but in the marketplace, something that looks “designed” trumps something that does not.

The lights in the Milan bakery don’t fit. This is a better solution, repeating the rhythm of the panels over the counter:

More modern-theatrical design:

Thomas Heatherwick – Longchamps Soho
Karina Wikiac – Szklarnia (restaurant/exhibit)
Home of interior designer Roderick Shade
The Sweet Spot: When Retail Design is Modern but not Minimalist

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