Hand touching reprocessed material board

Double take on Euroshop 2020

Three years on from our last visit and we can only really see small changes in retail, but what we do see are the new shoots of change that in the years ahead will have a major impact on the retail environment.

New material experiments from Hans Boodt

The buzz word is “sustainable” and this can be seen in many ways. Sustaining your current good practices, changing to start your sustainability journey, or simply pleading ignorance and sustaining an older method of thinking.

Looking at the show as a whole, through the lens of sustainability, we noted three main areas of interest; energy control, material choices, and adaptability/changeability.

Energy Control

The introduction of lighting control chips into store environments, such as the offerings from Casambi, can allow an increase or decrease in brightness as the day plays out. Control from your phone for areas not in use 24/7, red spectrum LED’s to make products stand out, and energy use reports and smart meters are the way forward.

Customers are more aware of power when it’s supplied on their demand. They have accepted a store may not need 1000 lux of sunshine to direct them to the carrots. Now escalators only move when you do, tills come to life when you need them, shopping trolleys allow you to leave when you are done (as it knows what you’ve placed in it).

All these small changes can make a huge difference towards reducing energy wastage, for example fridges that display prices without need for paper tickets and which can also order more produce to restock them, but only when needed. This is all clever stuff and it’s here already, slowly making waste a thing of the past.

The elephant in the room is plastic. There – we’ve said it. Plastic can be good, but most of it is being readily avoided by customers if they have the choice.

Material Choices

The elephant in the room is plastic. There – we’ve said it. Plastic can be good, but most of it is being readily avoided by customers if they have the choice. After the ban on free plastic bags the world has slowly developed a different opinion on plastic use.

There were very promising signs from the traditional mass plastic retail trades, such as clothes hangers from Cortec and mannequins from Hans Boodt. High density boards made from recycled clothing by Really and business cards made from recycled t-shirts, by Moo, stood out in particular. It was great to see end of life being quoted at the source of a retail chain and not just at the cliff edge of disposal. Hangers made from 50% grass and 50% recycled plastic is awesome, mannequins made from jute and composite material that’s in its second life are all epic steps forward in retail.

Adaptability/Changeability

Creating retail environments isn’t about the obliteration of what already exists. There are many options to over-clad and change appearances with minimum impact such as wallpaper made from natural materials including meadow grasses, flowers, and leaves made by Organoid. Micro thin stone cladding, by Stone Leaf, can elevate and embellish a store environment in a fast and effective fashion.

Pioneer Trading Company’s use of magnetic material is being applied to walls, allowing changes to the store layout within seconds. Mabos can transform flooring instantly with magnetic floor panels that can be lifted and reused when needed or moved onto the next job.

All these solutions aid speedy installation and change-over with minimal disruption to trading and the customer experience.

The show for us is a window into what’s next. New low-impact materials, and products with reuse considered from the beginning are the way forward, and at last, as an industry we are catching up. Look at it like it’s just one massive plastic bag that we need to stop using. We all did that, so why not this?

Cortec Coat Hangers
Cortec made from 50% grass

Can I have some more?

Top 5 Retail Material Trends for 2022

After a recent visit to the Surface Design Show to see the latest in material trends and innovations. These are our predictions for the year ahead.

The future of retail will be experience – we already know that. But at what cost?

I was asked this week, by a student, what I really thought about the death of the high street, and what ultimately might happen to retail. My answer was clear in my mind; Retail will always be around, I feel sure of that - It will just be lead by experience. Consumers may well focus on purchasing online and we may see stores (as we know them) become showrooms to their products, but it will always exist in some form.