June 2016 //

Designer Dispatch: Destination Mélange

By Andrea Smith

Spring 2016 travel presented a mélange of retail and geography, taking me to three cities whose names aren’t typically associated with one another: Orlando, Portland and London!

First stop, Orlando. Over the course of three site visits, I saw our first Iconic Resort Tommy Bahama concept store come to life. After the store’s successful grand opening at Disney Springs, I traveled back to Orlando for an overnight photoshoot to document its stand-out features including the garden grove, massive skylight and artfully-casual visual merchandising.

Next, it was down to Portland to check out the new anthropologie lifestyle store. We helped in early planning of this concept in an undisclosed location in Philadelphia, and it was delightful to identify many of MG2’s touches from this special collaboration.

A few days later, I flew to London and saw all manner of visual display – from knock-out retail, to temporary and permanent exhibitions at the city’s excellent museums, to the exuberant cultivation of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. The city was decked out for the Chelsea Flower Show, and retailers, restaurants and hotels across the city got into the spirit, adorning their windows and entries with scores of flowers and greenery.

I was captivated by the current exhibition at the V&A.  I went back again and again to witness the evolution of the Elytra Filament Pavilion, which was inspired by beetles and powered by robots.

Meanwhile, indoors, Selfridges’ new Body Studio is a world unto itself, with an intuitive combination of merchandise categories. The Studio’s focus is apparel to be worn next to a woman’s body – active wear, shape wear, lingerie, swim wear and the list goes on. Its finishes and fixtures are tailored to each category’s shop, and a hair salon and café fill out the cohesive destination. This designer may have spent some serious time and dollars (err, pounds) lost in the wonder of retail. Next time I’ll bring reinforcements!

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