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Published: 18 Aug 2014

Normal: Custom 3D-Printed Retail

Normal, NYC

Truly a one-stop shop, New York-based tech start-up Normal has launched a 3D-printed custom ear-bud retail space (designed by New York-based architects HWKN) within its headquarters-cum-factory in Manhattan.

Located in the city’s Chelsea district, the fluorescently lit, lab-like store uniquely sells just one product, which can be ordered via an in-store photo booth, or remotely via the Normal mobile app.

Using the digital photo booth or app is crucial to the whole process. The system captures the unique contours of each ear with the surprisingly low-tech step of taking photos while holding up a US quarter (coin) as a point of reference. Once the images are accepted, the consumer then digitally selects their preferred colour and cord length.

Adding a level of intriguing retail theatre to the process, the entire manufacturing journey is made visible to the consumer. This allows them to the follow production from the 3D printer to the assembly and testing line, which is located behind glass at the rear of the store. For those in a hurry, it’s possible to order via the app, and then collect at a specified time in-store.

Brand-consumer co-authorship is a trend with huge continued mileage, with concepts that display the making process adding still more value. For more, see: Product Hubs: Experimentation and Co-creation in our Future of the Store Industry Trend, Confection Destinations, Show & Tell Retail: Revealing the Product Journey, and H&M’s Quality Lab

For more on the evolution of 3D printing, see 3D Printing’s Outlook 2014, Staples 3D Printing, Nanoscale 3D printing, 3D-printed Footwear and iMakr from July’s New York Retail City Guide. For more on store design and visual merchandising trading on laboratory aesthetics, see Scientifically Styled Retail Spaces.

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