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Coming Up Roses

Innovative signage marries high-tech solutions and engaging design in Babalu’s newly renovated South Beach, Fla., flagship



When it came to renovating their flagship, Paolo Ambu and Greg Melvin, owners and founders of luxury retailer Babalu (Miami Beach, Fla.), wanted to transform their South Beach, Fla., shop into a high-end customer experience.

“When we moved to South Beach, we wanted to create something totally different to fill the gap between commonplace mass-market and one-brand luxury stores,” Ambu says.

“We came up with the idea of a one-stop-shop luxury convenience store with an international range of hard-to-find fashion, home design merchandise and an elitist perfume bar,” adds Melvin.

The now-expanded, 400-square-foot store displays everything from Babalu’s signature candy to home goods in a vibrant interior designed with the customer in mind.

The updated features have what the owners call an “Old World apothecary flair” combined with today’s high-tech in-store offerings.

Static features include lacquered cabinetry, Corian surface tops, Starfire glass, vertical stripes and lighting with splashes of neon colors mixed with the brand’s signature pink, all of which come together to form a whimsical, luxurious design that highlights what Ambu calls a “sense of wonder.”


The space also features the new Departure Lounge, a 100-foot expansion which Ambu describes as “a cool den carved out of what used to be our storage room and dressing [room] area.”

By removing the dividing wall between the store’s retail space and its former storage room, the design team opened up an innovative shopping experience, accessible during walk-in store visits, as well as by appointment.

The store’s Departure Lounge experience is complete with physical displays of perfume vitrines paired with the “Perfume Genie,” an interactive digital feature that tailors a selection of perfumes specifically to a customer’s taste.

To narrow down customers’ personal scent preferences, shoppers can browse fragrances and perfume families within a two- to three-minute interactive process, during which the Perfume Genie highlights various notes of each fragrance. The display then presents a suite of perfumes that meets the input criteria. A store employee called the “perfume butler” then presents customers with individual testers of fragrances specially selected based on their interaction with the display. Selections are available for purchase in the store, or the information can be sent to the customers via email for purchase online.

The result of the renovation has been positive for both customers and the business: “We’ve seen customer interest come alive more than we imagined, and it has accelerated the growth of our perfume business,” says Ambu.

With the new digital additions, Babalu owners accomplished exactly what they intended: The newly redesigned flagship, with its custom, interactive journey, has created an engaging shopping environment, pairing high-tech solutions with the human touch of a brick-and-mortar store.


Above Accessible to visitors for walk-in visits or by appointment, Babalu’s Departure Lounge is a new attraction offering a customized perfume-shopping experience.

Customers interact with the Perfume Genie, a new interactive feature in the store’s Departure Lounge that allows shoppers to browse the retailer’s many fragrance offerings and hone in on their individual tastes.


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MasterClass: ‘Re-Sparkling’ Retail: Using Store Design to Build Trust, Faith and Brand Loyalty

HOW CAN WE EMPOWER and inspire senior leaders to see design as an investment for future retail growth? This session, led by retail design expert Ian Johnston from Quinine Design, explores how physical stores remain unmatched in the ability to build trust, faith, and loyalty with your customers, ultimately driving shareholder value.

Presented by:
Ian Johnston
Founder and Creative Director, Quinine Design

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