When awarded the opportunity to create a new concept for Zippy (Porto, Portugal) – a retailer of upscale children’s clothing and accessories, geared toward infants to 14-year-olds – with stores across the Middle East, Europe, Central Asia and the Americas, design firm Dalziel and Pow (London) developed an imaginative solution to a familiar problem.
“According to customer research, parents often find it difficult shopping with their children,” says Elly Bowness, creative lead, digital, Dalziel and Pow. “Guided by Zippy’s brand ideology that aims to treat children as importantly as parents, we designed a concept that weaves tech-enhanced ‘pockets of play’ into the design.”
When the retailer’s boutique in Setúbal, Portugal, opened November 2014, it was the first to test the various new design features, created to form an engaging shopping journey for families. As “digital natives,” comfortable with technology from an early age, most children respond intuitively to the tech built into these focal points.
Dalziel and Pow was originally briefed to work with existing Zippy-branded illustrations in the design of displays and focal points. However, as the interior design directive evolved, the designers felt something more expressive and distinctive was needed to make the brand equally appealing to both parents and children. The team created a fun cast of unique, group-specific cartoon characters, each with its own name and personality. This colorful troupe became an ideal medium for the store’s features, in particular, an interactive sound poster.
Following extensive research and prototype development, the designers constructed a panel, screenprinted with conductive ink, allowing characters to emit their own personality-based sounds when touched. Paint that, when dried, uses carbon to conduct electricity, was applied to a plywood sheet to hide the digital workings of the pioneering Ototo board that stores and plays the display’s sounds, thus increasing the sense of “invisible magic.”
The designers worked with the board’s creator to customize unique sounds for each character – from the buzz of insects to the popping of bubbles. The illustrated figures have proved so popular, they’re now being used in both online and in-store animations, environmental graphics, Zippy’s branded merchandise and in new locations.
Another surprise allows kids to feel included during the checkout process: The “Fun Receipts” machine is shaped like a gigantic mouth and issues receipts printed with mazes, games and characters to color. Ten printed patterns were installed for the store’s launch, however, its dynamic system enables Zippy to update content as desired.
The designers faced a hurdle when the equipment originally specified for the receipts machine was discontinued. Inventive thinking led to a bespoke pairing of credit card-sized computer, Raspberry Pi, with a thermal printer, enabling the team to craft a system for tearing off receipts that prevents them from becoming stuck behind the cashwrap. The final MDF version was cleverly affixed using magnets behind the registers.
Dalziel and Pow’s imaginative applications of technology to the children’s retail environment are now being introduced in Zippy’s new stores.
“By designing a concept that sparks curiosity, interaction and delight,” says Bowness, “we have created an experience that’s entertaining for kids, less stressful for adults – and strengthens the brand’s emotional appeal with both demographics.”
Click below to see Zippy's conductive-ink displays and fun receipt machine in action:
Zippy, Porto, Portugal
Dalziel and Pow, London
Photography: Andy Townsend, London