Bangkok department store Siam Discovery has reopened under the moniker The Exploratorium, courtesy of a design overhaul by Japanese design studio, Nendo (see our profile). Grounded in the concept of discovery, the majority of traditional brand concessions within the 40,000 sq m store have yielded to a series of shoppable installations centred on experimentation.
Complementing a small smattering of existing concessions, 13 thematically curated retail ‘labs’ across the store’s six floors display products organised by lifestyle or sector, regardless of brands. Key spaces include Her Lab – womenswear; His Lab – menswear; Street Lab – streetwear; Digital Lab – electronics and gadgets; Creative Lab – homewares; and Play Lab – hobbies, entertainment and books. There is also a co-working space for in-transit consumers – see also Commuter Commerce.
The concept envisions a less brand-led and more intuitive, realistic mode of shopping also being deployed by London department store Harvey Nichols. See also Intuitive Layouts.
Inferring modernity and unfettered experimentation at every step, visual merchandising (VM) across the entire store takes its cues from science labs. Flasks, molecular structures, beakers, test tubes, microscopes, bubbles and smoke have been abstractly reimagined as fixtures, décor and motifs.
Other aesthetically noteworthy VM features include 202 frame-like boxes with video monitors in the digital lab, hundreds of matt grey cylindrical displays of different heights in the handbag area, and giant microscope-inspired fixtures in the electronics department. See also Scientifically Styled Retail Spaces.