Design: Dalziel & Pow
Opening date: January 2016
Store size: 214 sq m
O2 is rewriting the rule book. The digital communications company has opened a new concept store in Manchester that is designed to revolutionise the look and feel of a traditional mobile phone shop, as well as provide a destination for people to not only buy a mobile phone but learn about and be inspired by the latest technology.
‘Traditionally, mobile phone shops have been designed to be very functional and can often be uninviting and uninspiring,’ says Bridget Lea, general manager at O2. ‘That’s exactly what we’ve set out to change.’
The new location is three times the size of a typical O2 store, and features interactive ‘inspire zones’ and lounge areas where customers can explore the latest technology and enjoy complimentary hot drinks. The interior, developed in collaboration with Dalziel & Pow, blends innovative digital design with warm domestic finishes such as reclaimed furniture and soft rugs, to create a ‘relaxed, agile and social’ environment.
‘The entrance is defined by the “inspire zone”, a flexible design element regularly updated to tell relevant stories, ensuring customers always have something fresh to discover and a reason to go in store,’ explains Luke Kan, design project leader at Dalziel & Pow. ‘Themed interactive takeovers will change each month, engaging customers through a digital layer of attraction on the storefront, including four recognisable screens and the “inspire zone” inside.’
At the heart of the store in the so-called ‘discover zone’ is a large architectural community table offering everything from workshops to phone-charging pads. Here, hidden projectors overlay animations and messages onto the table, inviting customers to enjoy and explore the space.
Lifestyle-focused product stories are integrated onto the mid-floor table, while the main product range is presented along the perimeter wall underneath a hand-drawn illustration of the city skylines. Meanwhile, accessories are arranged into a collection in a new fixture kit.
Instead of traditional counters, O2 Gurus are on hand around the store to offer advice and demos, with comfy sofas in the hospitality area for more in-depth conversations.
The interior has a refined, stripped-back architectural look with an open ceiling in O2’s brand colour to provide a subtle brand presence and ownership throughout the space.
The lighting creates impact on entering the store, with full-scale backlit graphic and LED ceiling panels, while a more subdued and relaxed lighting approach is carefully crafted for the main store environment, explains Kan.
The versatile design means that the store can be regularly updated, ensuring that customers always have something fresh to discover. and a reason to visit. A second store has since opened at Westfield White City in London.