Ace & Tate unveils its new Responsible Retail Design concept with the opening of its fifth London store in Marylebone. The innovative concept was accelerated during the pandemic, which forced the brand to examine what the future of retail might look like. 

A collaborative project across multiple teams, Ace & Tate’s design team worked with CEO Mark de Lange, retail expansion director Doortje van der Lee and creative director Ruud de Bruin to set new principles to decrease the brand’s stores’ environmental and economical impact. This new design concept – titled Responsible Retail Design – will ensure that future store rollouts are flexible as well as modular, allowing Ace & Tate to respond fluidly and sustainably to future retail challenges. 

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We found this to be challenging at times,” said de Bruin. “Do we use local, recycled, repurposed, biodegradable or durable building materials? We found soon enough that each component needs its own tactic. And sometimes, the best thing we could do for the environment, is to do nothing at all but instead, work with the space we have to minimise the construction and keep the spirit of the space alive.”

Responsible Retail Design is a ready-to-assemble store concept which will be applied to all future Ace & Tate stores. The stores are more sustainable thanks to the circularity of building materials; economical through the standardisation of furniture; and flexible due to the prefabrication of components. The result allows Ace & Tate to build efficiently and utilise materials that aren’t as harmful to the environment. The concept’s four principles are:

  1. Designed for disassembly
  2. Honesty in materials
  3. Simplicity in design
  4. Bold in execution

Founder and CEO Mark de Lange worked with his team across borders with no travel – keeping Ace & Tate’s CO₂ budget in mind when designing and constructing stores. ‘Ace & Tate’s new store concept supports the company’s overall mission to reduce the footprint we leave behind,’ says de Lange. “We are adapting to a new future. We directed a store opening in London from The Netherlands through video conferencing and plenty of phone calls.”

Ace & Tate will also measure electricity, gas, water and waste usage per location in all its future stores, in light of the fact that retail buildings are the largest consumers of energy among non-residential buildings in Europe, contributing $20 billion each year.

Ace & Tate’s latest shop is located on Marylebone High Street, at the heart of one of London’s most elegant shopping areas. As the retail industry faces a major rethink, Ace & Tate has expanded its physical store count by 30 percent in 2020, to a total of 70 worldwide.

Ace & Tate collaborated with New Tendency to fashion the Marylebone space and abide by the concept’s principles, building on long-lasting ties with the Berlin-based design studio. Responsible Retail Design is in line with Ace & Tate’s pledge to become carbon neutral by 2030. The new London store boasts specially designed pieces by Danish sustainable furniture company TAKT, as well as counters made from end-of-life textiles and cut-offs by Kvadrat. The walls in the optician room are made of WoolFelt from Feline, which are removable and reusable.

The shop in Marylebone opens officially on 19 November 2020 with health and safety measures in place for customers to shop Ace & Tate’s own prescription and sunglass frames. The company also provides free, easy-to-book eye tests, which always follow health and hygiene measures. The store will also take back used models from customers in exchange for a gift code, as part of Reframe, Ace & Tate’s burgeoning bid to bring circular economy to the eyewear industry. 

Director of Retail Expansion, Doortje van der Lee concludes, “Responsible Retail Design is just the beginning of our journey in the future of our store expansion. With more flexible real-estate deals, and a modular store concept, this allows us to easily move the store if realities change again. It allows us to follow our customer and be available wherever our audience needs.”

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