Selling the Store

Forget the traditional divisions between “online” or “in-store”— consumers are now shopping where and when it’s convenient for them. Here’s a look at how designers are bringing down the retail walls and boosting their clients’ brands.

by Margie Monin Dombrowski

connect the dots
While some retailers are content to share elements between their websites and physical stores, others are looking to completely recreate the digital experience in-store. When Blu Dot decided to expand into Australia, it kept the scenes in its newly opened Sydney store virtually the same as its stores in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City. “The branding is identical,” says Brett Conroy, managing director of Blu Dot Australia and New Zealand. “You can walk into any store and have the same experience. You know you’re in a Blu Dot store.”

The space’s industrial-loft style with polished concrete floors and Douglas fir feature walls create an appropriate backdrop for the brand’s modern furniture. The overall aesthetic is taken straight from the company’s website, although that’s not the only thing it’s inspired by. Taking a cue from Blu Dot’s tongue-in-cheek marketing copy, even the accessories in the physical store have been humorously staged to convey the company’s brand; customers may stumble upon items like a life-sized plastic lobster relaxing on a sofa or a giant crab peeking out of a dresser drawer.

“There’s a level of fun and cheekiness in all of the seriousness of design,” says Conroy. “We’ve tried to replicate what’s in the catalog identically. I’ve tried to replicate multiple images on the website and reenact those vignettes in the store.”

Likewise, at the office and showroom in New York’s West Village, Edin Rudic, creative director of New York City-based MKDA, was sure to reflect the image and culture of the flash retail site that hawks wares from international designers. Bright bursts of rainbow colors are borrowed straight from the website, creating the same frenetic energy in the physical space. A wall of large foam blocks, some imprinted with the brand’s name, can be disassembled and turned into impromptu meeting or dining spots. “They take it down every day and build it back up,” Rudic says. “It involves people in making a micro environment within the larger space.”

Some of the furnishings sold on the site are incorporated in the office/showroom design, which can also be shot as vignettes for the website. “Furniture migrates all the time,” Rudic adds. “The space is dynamic like their website. They sell their products fast and they change their space fast. It’s a live space and it grows with them.”


Margie Monin Dombrowski is a freelance writer and interior design student based in Orange County, Calif. She frequently writes for interior design publications and creates copy for businesses on design topics. Find her online at


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