An interior designer by profession, Santani has been a part of retail designing for the past 14 years. She has worked with various brands like Tanishq and has been an active contributor to the new age of e-retailing.
She started the session by asking the audience – What can a store do for a brand?
The question got many responses from the audience which she them summarised by saying that it is always the store impression v/s other store impression. “We are always focused on the USP of the product but it is also important to consider that the store is an extension of the USP. A store is a place where we display our product, it is the first touch point with the customers and it is what sets us apart from competitors. A store can narrate a story to the customers,” said Santani.
Moving on with the discussion, she then spoke on whether retail design is equal to interior design. According to her, retail design is equal to interior design but it is not always necessary for an interior design to be equal to retail design. In her words, “Retail design is a summation of arts and science.” She then carried on explaining the art andscience of retail design.
Sharing her thoughts on art, Santani stated that art is a combination of aesthetics of the space, furniture and fixture design, lighting, materials and textures, and graphics. Science on the contrary is the combination of understanding the products.
She further went on to explain that understanding the geography and the competition is very important.
Talking about retail design (kiosks, store, restaurants, Big Box Retail, malls) Santani said it is all about space building. Store design aspects such as deciding upon the fixtures, flooring, ceiling and lighting is an occasional affair and the life of a store in terms of design is 3-5 years, she further added. In her opinion, visual merchandising is what constitutes the frequent change. She also laid stress on the fact that graphics make a huge statement and can do wonders to the space.
Santana also picked up some case studies. The first case study was about the store Ferrari in Italy. She highlighted on the key points which sets the store apart such as the distinct red color, how the store talks about cars, accessories and lifestyle merchandise.
Paul Smith of Dubai was the next store she spoke about. Santana said the store’s design was inspired from the vintage Victorian style. The third case study was about the Lego store which followed a very simple and basic style. Talking about the Camper store, she said it’s a brand for the youth who are not bounded by any rules so the store is open to interpretation in terms of store design.
Coming to the Indian scenario, she also spoke about Happy Singh, a restaurant in Bangalore designed by her company – Retale Design. The restaurant has a very unassuming entrance. Rich texture has been used in a very modern, humorous, and funky manner. The graphics put up on the walls, talk about “The Life of Happy Singh.” A part of the wall has been very interestingly done showing the various kinds of turbans and hair dos. The overall look of the restaurant is very rustic and simple with usage of happy colours like red and yellow.
She also discussed the case study of Club Mahindra Office inside a mall in Cochin. The designing, she said, has been done keeping in mind that they are selling services and not products. Concepts like vintage plantation house have been used for store design with a prime focus on the impeccable finish.
The entire session was very enlightening and ended on a positive note.