Tuesday, 22 September 2015

London Design Festival - Multiplex, Tom Dixon's Department Store

We went to Multiplex on Saturday, Tom Dixon's temporary department-store-of-the-future, part of the London Design Festival.

It was in a cavernous space, The Old Selfridges' Hotel, lighting was low and the walls were lined with silver foil. The departments comprised homeware (of course), fashion, accessories, beauty, food and drink. The atmosphere was calming and yet engaging, it really seemed to encourage conversation with the brands that were represented.

Some of the brands and some of the merchandising that caught my eye were:

Haeckels - You couldn't fail but notice their 'polytunnel' spa with planted porch, and, in fact, it encapsulated several important influences on their brand: a love of the coastal botanicals found near Margate and the science used to compound these botanicals into natural fragrances and skincare.
The cosmetics were displayed simply, each given sufficient space to stand out. Perfumes stood on top of wooden boxes marked with the GPS co-ordinates of the location where they were inspired, and the date and meteorological conditions when they were inspired.
As a whole area, it worked wonderfully!

Obataimu - This fabric-focused, concept-led, slow-fashion brand had an ingenious display in a corner of the department store. The two walls had not been used to display clothes, instead a video from their factory was projected onto the long wall, with some beautiful stills affixed to the left, and some infographics were positioned on the smaller wall to the right. The clothes were hung on two levels, parallel to the walls and extending almost their length, forming an enclosed, intimate space within the department store. 
Dresses from the Wabi Sabi collection (which 'indulg[es] individuality, impulse, statement and process') and other standout pieces, were in placed in hotspots to encourage customers to interact - reach up, touch the fabric and so on. The Shibui collection, inspired by witnessing people snatching shut-eye on the Tokyo tube and developed with sleep textile innovators, was mainly displayed on the right.
Finally, in the middle of the space, there was a selection of interesting books, to engage and give a homely feel.
Obataimu also have an excellent website.

Gelato Meccanico - How merchandising would be applied to a 'café-setting' isn't something I have really considered before, I can't claim very much knowledge of it all all, but I adored the presentation of Gelato Meccanico's ice creams! As we entered Multiplex, we were given a miniature cone that we could take to the food department to receive a free ice cream sample. As we queued, we admired two beautiful manual gelato churns. In cream enamel, natural wood and copper, these provided an insight into the performance and authenticity that seem important parts of this brand. A series of infographics explained the science behind the churns. Five or six flavours, some classic, some more inventive, were served from lovely chrome chillers.
And after that, my little scoop of honey and rosemary was absolutely delicious!

Tom Dixon's products really lend themselves to merchandising. An island of candles, a tower of gifts, in burnished copper and brass, naturally draw shoppers across for a closer look.
I repeatedly found myself pulled towards striking light fittings as well - Dixon's, and those of a New Zealand design house, Resident - and guided from department to department by light.

Multiplex is on until 18th October. If you can look in, it's really worthwhile!

First collage (clockwise from top) Tom Dixon Tank Jug £95, Brew Stove Top £125, Scent Diffuser Earth £85, Cog Candelabra £200, Large Scented Candle London £80, Plum Cocktail Shaker £95
Second collage (clockwise from top) Haeckels Eau de Parfum GPS 26'3"E £160, Exfoliating Seaweed Block £18, Seaweed/Geranium Hand Balm £18, Seaweed/Sea Lavender Lip Balm £15, Seaweed/Carrot Seed Facial Serum £65, Candle GPS 26'3"E £50

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