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2021 Retail Renovation of the Year: “Twinings Flagship Experience”

Makeover honors the brand’s heritage, with an eco-friendly bent

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Renovation: Specialty Store, Sales Area Under 10,000 Square Feet

Submitted by: Dalziel & Pow, London

TWININGS IS TRADITIONAL with a capital T. Originally opened by Thomas Twining in 1706 at this very locale, the store is London’s oldest tea shop and a popular tourist destination. The location, at 216 Strand (directly across the street from the regal Royal Courts of Justice), is the brand’s sole-owned, direct-to-consumer store worldwide.

Needless to say, anyone looking to update such an historic space had to tread carefully, balancing elements that longtime lovers of the space cherish, while also making it compatible with the eco-friendly preferences of today’s consumers.

“Our brief was to transform the store from a transactional space into a spiritual home of the brand,” said Ed Nelson, Design Director of Dalziel & Pow (London). “In our research, we identified a broad set of customers whose mindset ranged from ‘tea tourist’ to ‘tea aficionado.’ Whatever their story, our aim was to delight the curious.”

Given its long history (Jane Austen was a customer), a central theme of the remake was to encourage customers to learn more about the brand and what makes it unique. To that end, designers created an interactive, four-part “Moments of Curiosity” journey for customers to follow.

BEFORE

BEFORE RENOVATION

“ ‘Well-being’ triggers animations detailing ingredients and blends as well as lifestyle tips,” says Nelson. “ ‘Sourced with Care’ tells the story of Twinings’ ethical sourcing and initiatives to support its suppliers’ communities; ‘Master Blender’ details their experiences in working with Twinings and the tastes and stories behind their favorite blends; and finally, ‘Pioneering Spirit’ maps out the history of the brand through a collection of stories.”

At the rear of the space is a tasting bar that’s surrounded by digital screens that create an immersive video window into the plantations where Twinings sources its teas and botanicals. “Slow-moving images of gardens and herb fields create an atmospheric space as customer smell and taste the tea during the brewing process,” says Nelson.

After Courtesy of Dalziel & Pow

AFTER RENOVATION

The space’s materials palette design has been crafted to honor the brand’s heritage, yet offer a feel that is lighter, contemporary, layered and unique, he says. Materials like grasscloth, raw oak, brass and stone have been used to give a sense of natural craft, quality and authenticity.

“For an even more in-depth immersion into the brand, the space’s basement [which formerly housed storage space and back of house operations] has been transformed into a private tea-tasting bar where customers can pre-book a masterclass or hold private events,” says Nelson.

The overall result of the makeover, he says, is a “new concept that invites customers to discover the brand’s story, not only focusing on its heritage but also on its innovation, wellness, lifestyle and ethical sourcing.”

PHOTO GALLERY (14 IMAGES)

Photography: Courtesy of Dalziel & Pow, London

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