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Sparking Imagination

Experiential Retail Design | How New Zealand's leading digital services provider is disrupting experiential retail.

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UP AGAINST COMPETITION FROM international brands, Spark, New Zealand’s premier digital services provider, decided on a refresh for its flagship Auckland store. With a heavy digital offering and saturation of technology in the market, Spark collaborated with “human experience studio” Green Room Design (Birmingham, U.K.) to take an “analog approach” to the design.

“We designed the store around human interaction,” says Mike Roberts, chief creative officer, Green Room. “We wanted to facilitate experiences and regain the hearts and minds of the local audience.”

The store is set in Auckland’s Commercial Bay shopping center and blends into the local shopping and dining district while bringing to the area an energized, inspiring and disruptive aesthetic. “We created a persona around the Spark brand, which would be felt in the store,” explains Roberts, “Each floor has its own mantra: wow me, value me, trust me.”

Customer comfort is front of mind in the space. It’s a calm environment created by natural materials like stone and timber and biophilic elements such as plants and lighting tuned to circadian rhythms — the perfect complement to cutting-edge digital features.

On the ground “wow me” floor, customers make social connections with staff and are free to explore the minimal visual merchandising, which showcases products through narratives. The furniture configuration allows for leisurely browsing, “removing the anxiety of being in a high-pressure sales environment.” Digital tools, ironically, have been integrated sparingly, the space aims to meet the needs of customers’ digital lifestyles in an accessible, approachable way for every level of tech fluency.

Upstairs, in the “value me” space, customers can sit with staff in comfortable surroundings to discuss purchases and build packages around their needs, while on the top floor, the “trust me” space offers a means to connect, whether that’s through in-store presentations, in areas set aside for community use or at a café offering hot beverages.

With approaches to communication and shifts in socialization both as a result of the always online era and the COVID-19 pandemic, digital service providers must pivot. Spark is doing just that by providing a space that’s not focused on sales of networks and devices, but on the relationships and experiences behind that shift. What Green Room has created for Auckland is, indeed, “a place to connect to the future.”

PHOTO GALLERY (16 IMAGES)

Georgia Mizen is a contributing writer at VMSD magazine.

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