The Story Shop
The Story Shop in Westfield, London has been turning heads since it opened in October last year and now it might just be adding to its growing collection of awards. The interactive mid-mall kiosk for international children’s charity World Vision has been shortlisted for the Retail Week Interior Awards in the ‘Best Use of Design with Technology in Store’ category, which is another fantastic achievement for a brand trying to find its place in the fast-paced world of retail.
From the outset, World Vision wanted to change the perception of charities within retail. To do this they turned to design studio The Yard Creative who, alongside main contractors DMN and digital partners Omnifi, created a unique concept never before seen in the UK.
Steve James-Royle, co-founder of The Yard Creative, told Premier Retail about the project:
“The brief was: how do we change the UK’s retail perception of a charity’s place within retail? Historically charities have not been welcome or even allowed in the mega malls of the UK, so we wanted to change that. We wanted to show that these charities can get a foot in the door with something different to offer.”
Within 48 hours of being shown the concept for The Story Shop, The Yard Creative ensured that World Vision was offered six of the premium malls in the country. And they did this be rethinking the standard approach for a store such as this.
Rather than the usual charity approach, The Story Shop flips things on its head and gets shoppers to voluntarily engage with the store. As Steve explains, this is mainly achieved through the use of a very special mirror – a significant design feature of The Story Shop.
“The main feature of The Story Shop is a big, magic mirror, which features a young girl called Hope. This mirror is huge and as customers walk past they cut across infrared beams that are projected out from the mirror. As they cut through one of the beams it suddenly looks like Hope is walking with them. It’s clear by the way she is dressed that she shouldn’t be in a mall, so at the point that customers stop and acknowledge her, she beckons them towards the screen and puts her hand out.
“At the point whereby customers touch Hope’s hand and make a connection, the ripple affect takes place and their reflection disappears and the location of her world appears. She tells customers a story for forty seconds and then sends them on an analogue treasure hunt. At this point, the customer has now engaged with the brand for over two minutes, voluntarily stepping on to The Story Shop platform. This suggests to the fundraisers, who have been completely retrained to become experiential retailers, to now engage with the customers.”
After the initial introductory to the brand, the shop transitions between digital and analogue seamlessly. Each item within the platform has a story for customers to connect with and customers can continue their shopping experience as they would with any other store.
With such a unique selling point, it is not surprising that this project is creating a lot of buzz, however, it is quite surprising that the store has been nominated for a Retail Week Interior Award, as it is rare for a charity to be considered for an award such as this.
Steve James-Royle, commented:
“We’ve been very lucky. It’s already won several awards, been highly commended in several others this year and it is an incredibly proud moment. My wife and I own the business together and I think it’s been the only project that’s made us cry for good reasons. There was a huge amount of responsibly on our shoulders to get it right.”
DMN Design Build
Founded in 1963, DMN Design Build specialises in design and build projects throughout the construction sector. The company designs and builds interiors for bars, restaurants, clubs, showrooms, shops, offices and retail projects and is one of the longest-established exhibition builders and point of sale specialists in the UK.
DMN Design Build is based just north of Huddersfield in Yorkshire. The company occupies a 30,000 sq ft unit housing a graphic design studio, a state-of-the-art digital print room, a carpentry-workshop, spray booths and a storage area, as well as office space.
DMN Design Build works with both agencies and clients directly from an original idea to delivery of the finished product. In addition to a long standing relationship with The Yard Creative of over ten years, DMN has also worked with Protein Haus and Models Own.
With regards to The Story Shop project, DMN Design Build was heavily involved in the scheme, from brand creation and strategy, design and identity, to the build and installation.
Director, Matt Briggs, commented on The Story Shop:
“The responsibility to make a difference outside of selling simple retail products was huge in this scheme. The fact this project has raised huge amounts of sponsorship means it will change the lives of many children around the world. That’s true design.”
“As a company we pride ourselves in changing sectors and creating remarkable designs and built experiences.”