pastry mashup
DonutMuffin
Foodspotting: The hybrid DonutMuffin at the Ferry
Building Saturday Market in San Francisco. 
 
 
Six stories you need to know before you hit the water cooler...
  • Hybridification: Are pastry mash-ups a real treat or half-baked? NYTimes
  • Farewell: DailyCandy will shutter next week. Racked
  • Retail Intelligence: Bricks-and-mortar stores are looking like physical websites. Financial Post
  • Transparency: App lets consumers find out if cosmetics contain toxic chemicals. Springwise
  • SmartCommerce: Shazam for clothes finally exists! Racked
  • Design Diligence: Novel eye-tracking study improves label designs. Food Navigator
 
 
Cosmetics Heathrow
 
Why would a cosmetics brand open a freestanding store at London Heathrow when the same products are sold – steps away – at Harrods? 
 
New research confirms our captive venue reporting with robust statistics. According to FashionUnited and Verdict, the global airport retail market will grow 72.9% to $52.9 billion by 2019.
 
And, Generation Research reports that the duty-free and travel retail sales of perfumes, luxury goods and cosmetics increased by 28% between 2008 and 2011 and are predicted to grow another 25% in the next two years.
 
Those statistics, coupled with the world's busiest international terminals and direct to consumer margins, make this little empty Estée Lauder outlet financially enticing.
 
Spotted last year while connecting through Heathrow, our take on the merchandising is less than favorable. If only store and visual design would have taken a cue from the beauty concierge in Hawaii – and forgo the electric blue, modular displays, and faux-refrigeration "best seller" fixtures for a luxurious setting that encouraged pampering and solace. 
 
 
 
Shed Healdsburg
 
Healdsburg Shed
 
There’s a new breed of independent retail developing. Complexes, campuses, and marketplaces offering convenience for kindred spirits. An all-in-one indie mall of sorts.
 
Shed, in Healdsburg, CA is one of two concepts launched with this type of modern market flair in Sonoma County. Visiting the two-story café-meets-grocery, retail, deli, bar, workshop, larder, grange is like stepping into the pages of Kinfolk magazine. Including verbs such as Cook, Farm, Eat, and Make to identify individual sections. 
 
Shed Healdsburg
 
Signage aside, the spaces are superbly merchandised with all the vital necessities for any culinary-centric gathering. From farming essentials to packaged foods, the enthusiasm for quality and local products resonates.
 
Shed Fermentation Bar
 
The fermentation bar – with shrub beverages, local wines, and kombuchas  is the most talked about differentiator, but certainly not the whole story. The ingredient-driven menu, open kitchen, and wood oven are cornerstones of seasonal dining. The communal seating, both in the café and upstairs grange, sets the appropriate stage for Sunday suppers and social events. 
 
Shed Healdsburg
 
Design and community are give even-weight throughout each department in the expansive space. By our best estimate, the build-out could have been in excess of ten million dollars. 
 
We're pretty tired of the words artisanship and reimagined, but Shed has both in spades. We hope that ventures like this inspire more traditional spaces to evolve by serving a lifestyle instead of a menu or assortment. 
 
Does your business need a strategy pick-me-up, merchandising makeover, or real-life research from an archive of thousands of themes? Gain a competitive advantage with our macro or micro personalized reporting now
 
popuo weddings
popup weddings
 
Here's a novel idea from a former client in Seattle: Pop-up Wedded Bliss. 
 
Coinciding with Valentine's Day, this one-day event is meant to assist love-birds getting hitched or renewing vows in a simple, meaningful, and elegant setting without the cost and hubbub of a more conventional wedding. Seeing as we'd worked with owner, Jenny Hudak Klimenkoff, we had to learn more about why she's continually evolving her retail space with new projects
 
"I am excited by the idea of applying my curated approach and sensibility to a different aspect of people’s loves’ - an actual experience. I think a lot of people who shop in my store are often intrigued and now they have an opportunity to bring a piece of far4 into their lives, in a totally new way. I believe that the future of retail goes beyond a standard physical space that sells beautiful objects. Pop-up Weddings will help to alter peoples lives with an experience that’s useful and wonderful."
 
While eloping might not be for everyone, it's hard to argue that the various complexities and cost of wedding nuptials can disrupt what is meant to be a beautiful day. In an increasingly experiential world, it seems logical that Seattleites might prefer a charming boutique in historic Pioneer Square to a chapel in Las Vegas.  
 
Opening Ceremony smart bracelet
 
Collaborations are so commonplace, given the prevalence of diffusion collections, that we’re often skeptical of the longevity. That is – unless it’s a groundbreaking cooperative four-way.
 
Intel Corporation, Barneys New York, the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and Opening Ceremony plan on hitting a home run with a newly announced strategic collaboration to explore and bring to market a stylish smart bracelet concept. The partnership, announced yesterday at CES, aims to increase dialogue between the fashion and technology industries – from design and development to distribution and merchandising.
 
“The collaborations we announced today are indicative of Intel’s collective and conscious approach to the wearable market,” said Ayse Ildeniz, Vice President, Business Development and Strategy of Intel’s New Devices Group. “Through these initiatives we will combine Intel’s leading technologies with Opening Ceremony’s design prowess, Barneys New York’s track record to identify the next consumer trends, and CFDA’s commitment to advance innovation within the fashion industry. Our shared vision is to accelerate wearable technology innovation and create products that both enhance peoples’ lives and are desirable to wear.”
 
“Humberto and I have always allowed our curiosity to take us to uncharted waters. Since our early travels and shopping sprees in Asia, we've been keen on discovery,” said Carol Lim, co-owner of Opening Ceremony. “This is an incredibly exciting and unique opportunity with Intel to bring our design vision to a wearable accessory that collides with Intel's state of the art innovation with fashion. We are diving in to embark on a journey with Intel and can’t wait to see where it will take us. Intel is a company that has powered our lives in countless ways and now we get to be a part of shaping the 21st century with them.”
 
Based on the success of this project, Intel and the CFDA plan to create a community for technology developers and fashion designers to network, match-make, cultivate, and exchange ideas on the power of power of technology and its influence on fashion.
 
Unlike wearables currently sold online or at big-box retailers, we love how the brands have thoughtfully merged and seen the opportunity to highlight customer experience, visual presentation, and merchandising within a luxury retail store.
 
We have to be honest: it feels really good to have this trend projection come to fruition by four undeniable powerhouses. 
 
merchandising by color
SuitSupply
 
Always a fan of great merchandising, we fell in love with the colorful tie bar wall display at the SuitSupply launch party in Seattle last week. The arrangement has a unique, almost pixelated, graphic quality that highlights a variety of hues while still remaining masculine. 
Complexity Simplicity
 
Happy New Year! Today seems like the perfect opportunity to look back at key insights from 2013.
 
For those of you with access to our custom intelligence, you are already keenly aware of the defining theme for 2013: Simplicity vs. Complexity. But for those without our paid trend research, it might have taken an educated eye to know what to look within the content of our blog. Here are some examples:
  • Defining Beauty, published nearly a year ago, was the first hint to this concept. Not only did we write the words “simple and complex,” but also we served up two examples of how sensory perception can alter understandings and how something simple can be complex, or vice versa.
  • Handcrafted shoes at Al’s Attire: The experience is honest and sincere–simple, perhaps–but the skill and expertise required to fit a made-to-measure shoe is incredibly complex. This art is not something that is taught today, and time and resources limit the availability of staff to create and produce such items. Meanwhile, the dilution of heritage experiences by mass-market retailers threatens to undermine quality.
  • On a broader spectrum, the cultural division between Simplicity and Complexity was well represented in food – where ingredients have continued to dominate the edible vocabulary. The transformation of something simple into culinary genius made cronuts™ and Korean kimchi as relevant as salumi from Norcia. The common thread is the time-sensitive, complex chemistry.
 
Riding the wave of Simplicity vs. Complexity wasn’t as easy as choosing solids instead of prints in 2013. And honestly, we’d be divulging proprietary information to layout the specific strategies that have helped our clients to navigate these treacherous waters. But, it is safe to say that these themes have influenced consumer attitudes – making the balance between the two more relevant than ever.
 
Curious by our thinking and how these themes evolve in 2014? Insights and strategies for your business are just a click away
 
 
10 corso como
10 Corso Como
 
As far as concept stores go, 10 Corso Como in Milan has remained a key cultural influence on retail, style, and sophistication. 
 
In all honesty, we didn't expected to write about our most recent visit but something about the memory of that lazy late afternoon, sitting in the garden cafe, watching hipster Italians stroll by for La Passeggiata (the art of taking a walk in the evening) has kept the imagery and experience top of mind. 
 
10 corso como
 
Twenty years after opening in a location far from the big name designers on the Via Montenapoleone, the retail store, bookstore, cafe, and restaurant still captivate the imagination. Famous for collaborations that no one thought possible and infused with goods worthy of the fashion elite, the biggest statement here lies in the geometric layered patterns, sculpted forms, and exquisite visual showmanship.
 
Corso Como Cafe
 
It was refreshing to revisit 10 Corso Como. As much as we love minimalist store design and eccentric curated haberdashery, few spaces are actually, purposefully unique to the brand. You cannot pinpoint the references by explaining it as "part this and part that" simply because it still remains the first of it's kind across multiple industries. 
 
 
Looks like we weren't the only ones perplexed with this booth.
 
We're thrilled to support local businesses by purchasing apparel, accessories, beauty products, and home goods at the American Express Holiday Popup in Seattle but the clunky positioning of social at the very back of the concept was just plain odd and a total retail afterthought. 
 
Why would you share your favorite moment at a popup with a machine instead of your social community?
 
Pumpkin Spice
Pumpkin Spice Latte
 
So, what does the prevalence of pumpkin spice say about our culture?
 
1. Nostalgia pays off. In contrast to the retail backlash around marketing and decorating for the Christmas holiday, fall denotes warmth and nostalgia without any gift-giving pressure. And pumpkin-inspired, limited-time offers are up 234% from 2008 to 2012, according to Datassential Menu Trends.
 
2. Imitation is flattery. As if pumpkin spice candles weren't enough, there are a plethora of products to choose from to complete your personal pumpkinification, such as: M&M’s, Pringles, Hershey’s Kisses, Planters, Eggos, Jet-Puffed Marshmallows, Country Crock, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Bath and Body Works, and yes, even Glade Room Spray. The icing on the cake...er, pie...of proliferation came via a feminine care products spoof by Saturday Night Live.
 
Pumpkin Spice
 
3. Indulgences are in our nature. A slice of pumpkin pie has nearly as many calories as a 16oz. pumpkin spice latte with 2% milk, but who’s counting?
 
4.  The rules are tricky. It’s acceptable to launch some products early as long as there is customer demand and the item doesn’t have religious or date-dependent ties. Pre-promotion of Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte in celebration of the popular drink’s 10-year anniversary had a domino effect within the industry starting in September.
 
 Pumpkin trends
 
5. Seasonality rules. Winter squash is harvested in autumn and is most likely native to Guatemala and Mexico and surrounding areas, dating back 10,000 years, according to author Kim O’Donnel.
 
6. Smell is a powerful sense. It’s not surprising that pumpkin spice tastes nothing like pumpkin. Hidden behind aromatic combination spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon, you’d be hard pressed to pick a butternut squash out of a lineup.
 
7. Don’t jump to conclusions. Contrary to popular belief, pumpkin pie and definitely pumpkin spice do not contain your Halloween friend. Squash style pumpkins, which are sweeter, are best for pie filling. 
 
8. Brands Beware. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. In addition to the SNL skit, there's a plethora of disdain for the commercialization of pumpkin spice, but you shouldn't blame Starbucks. The relationship with the flavor combination has evolved over the past ten years, and companies have followed suit. It's definitely time for product development teams to consider new alternatives. 
 
 
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UPDATE: 11.21.13: More regarding #8... A writer for Slate spent a week on a Pumpkin Spice diet and lived to write about it. We love his commentary and would add that "special edition" has lost meaning altogether due to various marketing campaigns that don't really live up to expectations.