Brick, Mortar and Pestle

Dr. Fleming Pharma & Healthcare embraces a fun, futuristic environment, all in the name of customer care
Posted July 21, 2014

High, dark wooden walls and ceramic pots overflowing with medicinal herbs once characterized Europe’s oldest “pharmas,” where druggists were practically regarded as magicians. Inspired by traditional pharmacy motifs, Italian designer Alessandro Luciani took a futuristic approach with the interior of Dr. Fleming Pharma & Healthcare’s Milan flagship.

Priding itself on being a “pharmacy of services,” Dr. Fleming offers medication pick-up and even a private consulting area for screening tests and psychotherapy.

Lessening focus on the retailer’s 100-120 SKUs, Luciani designed shallow shelves and placed them at central heights, “resulting in a marked aesthetic rhythm and improved visual merchandising.”

Indeed, merchandise pops from backlit circular methacrylate displays that dance across illuminated walls mounted with RGB LEDs, changing color in a constant rhythm. The bouncing, playful tone is complemented by an aura of mystery, and Luciani says many people enter the store driven by curiosity.

General lighting is reduced to a few spotlights aimed at the store’s unusual central fixtures. Notes Luciani, “The first sensation the customer perceives … is [entering] another dimension – the future.”

And hey, where’s the cashwrap? Luciani believes counters create barriers, so he designed checkouts that “don’t require the presence of the pharmacist during payment. The pharmacist is free to [roam] the store,” he explains.

Drawing inspiration from Old World pharmacies and herbaceous plants, one spindly flower-like fixture houses a register, while another holds a tablet pharmacists use to order prescriptions from a mechanized back-of-house stockroom.

Old European pharmacies’ wood aesthetic worked in Luciani’s favor when the store’s 18th Century ceiling beams couldn’t be altered without compromising structural integrity. Intuitively, he fitted them with track lighting, while exposed brick and original floors were left uncovered.

The end result? Along with fragrances, music and color effects, customers are greeted by the unrestrained pharmacist, “and not the other way around – welcoming [customers] as a good host usually does,” says Luciani.


Dr. Fleming Pharma & Healthcare, Milan

Design and Architecture
Alessandro Luciani, S. Eusanio, Italy

General Contractor and Fixtures
Grottini Retail Environments, Porto Recanati, Italy

Photography: Enrico Aguzzi, Rieti, Italy