Visual Vanguards, Part I

Checkland Kindleysides' visual display for Hunter's first flagship dominated the 21st annual International Visual Competition
Posted July 7, 2015

In-Store Accessories, Beauty and Shoe Presentation
Hunter, London
Submitted by: Checkland Kindleysides, Leicester, U.K.

You could say Hunter’s first flagship on London’s bustling Regent Street isn’t really an example of VM – but rather, sensory merchandising. From soundscapes, an illusionary “infinity forest” and tactile textures, the brand’s first physical location effortlessly transports customers to an English countryside.

“Inside the fitting rooms, you’ll hear birds singing and you’re only 10 yards away from one of the busiest shopping streets in England,” says Joe Evans, creative director, Checkland Kindleysides, describing just one of the store’s soundscapes.

Sweeping VMSD’s 2015 International Visual Competition with its super-immersive concept, Hunter proves that strong brand narratives are key to brick-and-mortar retail.

Designing the store “was unknown territory to a certain degree,” Evans says. “The objective was to launch and showcase this new product and present it in a premium, luxurious way, but with a sense of fun and a sense that it was true to the brand’s values and origins.”

Driven by reflective lighting and allusions to weather, Hunter’s key visual elements include a faux-gabion lightbox wall on the ground floor, which illuminates product from behind and highlights the boots’ rubbery texture. Similarly, lightbox hedges on the upper floor separate collections and emulate an English garden.

The basement kids’ area also utilizes available light: Glass blocks embedded into Regent Street’s sidewalks (“light wells”) allow natural light into the basement level, where Checkland Kindleysides placed the children’s boot display, on a stage-like area.

Back on the ground and upper floors, products are suspended above puddle-shaped displays, referencing clothing being hung to drip-dry after a downpour, allowing apparel to be viewed underneath via the reflective tables.

Boot rooms equipped with headphones encourage shoppers to listen to curated soundtracks while trying on boots; light filtering through the cracks of its barn-like walls is reminiscent of natural daylight. Corrugated metal panels forming its doors were finished in soft-touch paint, which has a tactilely similar feel to Hunters’ footwear.

Other elements that enhance the experience include a 16-foot LED screen featuring rotating content, and an AstroTurf-lined elevator that broadcasts rain sounds.

“This is definitely a well-thought-out store,” Visual Competition judge Erin Stang, senior interior designer, FRCH Design Worldwide (Cincinnati), said about the winning project. “The overall experience covers all the senses.”

Read more about the 21st annual Visual Competition winners featured in VMSD's July 2015 issue by clicking here, and be sure to check throughout the month of July for parts II-VII of this Visual Competition coverage.