We were asked by the owners of luxury wine, spirit and sake retailer Liquid Gold to create a warm, welcoming retail environment, inspiring confidence in the customer, making the exclusive stock the hero and optimising the confined space without customers feeling cramped or intimidated.
With small footprints (dictated by high retail rents in the city) Liquid Gold’s stores do not pretend to be destinations for bulk purchases of liquor, in competition with supermarkets or grocery stores. Rather, they are positioned as curators of fine wines, sake and whiskeys, for people sourcing gifts, single bottles for special occasions; or as somewhere connoisseurs can browse and discover new “top shelf” labels. Our challenge was to create a welcoming environment to a customer base with high spending power and convey a sense of trust that the stock could be bought or gifted with confidence.
The finished design had to look modern yet reputable and appeal to a predominantly Chinese customer base. Using a gallery-style approach to lighting, delineating product categories and creating different spaces for ‘hero products’, we created an environment which attracted passersby by being warm, welcoming and unintimidating.
The unique selling point of this retailer is its carefully curated range of high-end products. The store design had to inspire confidence in customers and make it easy to identify product options in each category.
The store is effectively broken into two sections, with an elevated area housing temperature-controlled storage. Here, bottles lie on an angle, almost horizontal on shelves, each with discreet under-shelf lighting illuminating the labels below making product easy to see without the need to open the doors and remove a bottle for inspection. Behind the cashier’s counter, the store’s most exclusive products - typically aged whiskies - stand on backlit shelves. A tasting counter is positioned in the middle of the store where customers can sample beverages on promotion, without crowding the cashier’s station.
We choose a simple, elegant style making much use of natural wood shelving and fixtures, exuding a clean, crisp Japanese feel Soft, luxurious surface tones and gallery-style lighting help create a sense of luxury. Contemporary classic stools by Simon Hasan and a Tom Dixon hanging lamp complement the simple design chic.
Subtle branding in soft tones on the outside of the store reinforce the sense of exclusivity of the brand’s offer. Large open windows allow the eyes of passersby to be drawn into the store, encouraging exploration and potential impulse purchases.
With the store split into two levels, and brightly lit chilled cabinets at the rear, the customer’s eye is naturally drawn through the compact store space. The minimalist cashier station is central, ensuring every customer gains a sense of all product categories in the store.
A suspended square shelving cube creates a focal point along one wall, downlights illuminating featured products. Both the cashier’s desk and a matching tasting table several steps away are minimalist, with sharp clean lines.
Clean finishes throughout are in keeping with the store’s ‘Japanese feel’. Highlights are a framed grid of durable grey cement board cut into into a jigsaw of adjoining pieces on the exterior wall and a custom-designed Organoid laminate panel echoing the raw materials used in creating fine sake and whisky.
Gallery-style lighting is positioned to make the product hero, as much as possible hidden in the underside of shelves, creating warm ambience and reducing glare. Behind the cashier’s desk is a Lumisheet internally lit panel, reflecting the most exclusive backlit product.
Such is the nature of the merchandise, the product is very definitely the ‘king’ in this retail space, amplified by the clean, minimalist fit-out. Most stock is stored out of sight to avoid the ‘commoditisation’ feel of most modern liquor store designs.