Luxury retailer Fresh builds big digital into flagship store’s design

October 13, 2011 by Dave Haynes

A couple of years ago I was dealing with a cosmetics retailer that wanted to do a big display wall in the store, but didn’t want to use display panels because of the seams.

Well, I said, you could do projection but that’s not going to work well from the front, but it would be fine from the back … as long as there was a room behind the glass and it could be used to house a projector, and not much else.

That pretty much killed that.

Now there’s stuff like Christie’s MicroTiles, which when clustered are about as close as you can get to seamless. That makes a big display wall possible, and that’s what’s going on here at a store called Fresh, in New York.

The store is a brand within the LVMH Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton luxury group. The retail design for its flagship store involves a couple of  MicroTiles display walls.

“Two innovative Christie MicroTiles displays,” says a release, “complement the store’s four interactive ‘destinations’ to excite the senses of sound, sight, smell, taste, and touch. Ultimately, the MicroTiles’ brilliant colors, sharp images and tactile-friendly surfaces encourage customers to linger and interact.”

“We wanted to animate the Fresh brand visually and texturally, and revitalize its core values that reflect an appreciation for tradition, storytelling, and innovation,” say Fresh founders Lev Glazman and Alina Roytberg.  “We really love how Christie MicroTiles blend in perfectly with the architecture of the store and our products – they are not shiny or glossy like typical LCD and plasma screens, but bring an understated elegance that adds to the immersive, sensory-rich experience of the environment. After installing them in the flagship Union Square store, we are  now in a multi-store rollout from the U.S. to Asia.” 

The store set-up has a three wide by eight high array of tiles at the back and  a nine-tile front of store display, both of which can be seen from the street. The nine-tile bit is done in a cool-sounding tile-space-tile-space pattern.  “The media wall is a ‘Moving Canvas’ where the Fresh stories come to life through newly created film and video footage.  Customers can also learn more about the origins and benefits of Fresh products by surfing on provided iPads.  

Caleb Mulvena, the Principal and Co-founder of Mapos LLC., which did the store design, says they went with the Christie tiles “because they offer elegance, architectural quality, Pantone color matching – high impact visual element with an unassuming quality.”

“Christie MicroTiles have a ‘magic invisibility’ that integrates them into the fixture, so that customers no longer see the technology but the content,” adds Mulvena. “They have a painterly quality to them that seamlessly communicate the Fresh message to customers, focusing them on the content without distracting from the fixtures or the products. They can exist in a very intimate space – their essentially limitless resolution allows people to walk up to them and read as though they were reading from a piece of paper.”

Integrator Jeff Grantz, of Materials & Methods, says Fresh wasn’t even going to do digital signage because the owners and designers didn’t like how flat panels were going to look.

“However, they were drawn to MicroTiles because they maintained the very natural looking qualities of their ingredients and product imagery,” says Grantz. “The designed environment was intended to be very clean, like a modern apothecary store. MicroTiles were the only technology that could support digital video and be seamlessly integrated into the surroundings.  We ultimately wanted to present beautiful images and video, but have the technology disappear.”

Photo: Jean-Marc Plisson

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