Campbell-Rey is a creative consultancy and design partnership founded by friends Duncan Campbell and Charlotte Rey. They bonded whilst co-editing the formidable Acne Paper and recognising their creative frisson, they decided to branch out into other mediums. Today they’ve worked with some of the world’s most innovative and desirable brands: from creative direction to store design and curation. We caught up with them to talk temporary stores, luxury experiences and creating fantasy worlds.
You’ve worked with many digital brands: what are the common misconceptions they make when it comes to physical retail?
Duncan: That if a store is only there for a month or two then it doesn’t need much time to plan or execute. The opposite is often true – the shorter time you have to have to make an impact, the better executed the concept has to be. Digital campaigns supporting footfall and programming such as talks and in-store events to create community and brand awareness can be key to bring it to life throughout the duration of the store.
How do you ensure a temporary store, never feels temporary?
Duncan: It’s always a challenge when you’re creating something that won’t be there for long, but even if a space is designed with simple lines and humble materials - detail is everything. We never want anything to look thrown together or unfinished. We always try to establish early what the client is trying to achieve with a pop-up store – is it to boost sales, to create a buzz around the brand, to speak to a new customer, host talks and/or events, have a strong digital crossover, launch a new product or all of the above?
Budget is obviously a big constraint for most brands launching temporary stores, how do you balance this without compromising on the experience?
Charlotte: A store is like a film set in many ways – it should evoke a mood, transport, excite and entice the customer and create a bit of a fantasy. With temporary spaces we love to find clever ways to create a sense of permanence and impact, even if something isn’t there for long. We often incorporate trompe l’oeil, perspective and geometric patterns in our work and that is something that is easy to carry through to a temporary space.
Natural materials are also important in our practice, but it wouldn’t be practical to use stone, metal or wood in a pop-up space in the same way we would in a permanent store. Paint techniques, striking wallpapers or screens, printed collateral, vinyl decals and a fun coloured carpet are all effective ways to create a striking impact without going crazy on the budget.
Are there any other special considerations for brands for a short-term vs. long-term store when it comes to their design?
Charlotte: Obviously the main consideration is the return on investment versus the time a store will be there for – no-one would expect the same spend on something that has to last for two months as they would if it has to look good in five years. We like to create custom furniture and in-store elements as much as we can, and often design freestanding pieces that can have a life of their own after the store is closed. This might mean bespoke mirrors, rails, shelving displays or points of sale that can be used in the brand’s showroom or even in a department store shop-in-shop after the pop-up is over. We also find that custom pieces and interiors are something that the design press are particularly interested in.
What do you think defines a luxury experience today?
Duncan: If luxury is privacy, time and space in the modern world – it amounts to a combination of these elements for us as creative directors and interior designers. Things we would consider in the customer journey are intuitive service, the visual and material impact and environment, the way the customer feels when they enter the space and the range and depth of product available. Almost always today there’s an initial discussion about the physical and digital crossover.
How important is it to consider how your store will look online?
Charlotte: We always tell clients that the importance of this cannot be overstated. How the shop looks, what experience it communicates, what collaborations are brought in, and what connections are made are all brand building and marketing opportunities that should be channelled to sales in store as well as online. In an ideal situation, the shop will be busy at all hours but even then, only a small percentage of potential customers will be able to make it to the store, as opposed to how many can access the experience online.
Creating visual or intellectual moments that can translate to social media is a great way to connect to customers globally. Also, today we are often looking at a very informed customer, who is interested in fashion as well as interiors, design or a delicious locally sourced restaurant pop-up, so the broader the media outlets one can hit with a space, the more customers a brand can interact with.
Can you share any tips for making sure your store is shareable online?
Duncan: We try to create a strong visual impact that’s focused around an interesting theme, that feels exciting for the neighbourhood it’s in and for the audience it’s communicating with. We often like to include vignettes around the space that work practically within the store’s layout but that also look fun and engaging. Investing in great photography and film as well as having a strong digital plan is essential.
What have been some of your favourite projects you’ve worked on recently?
Duncan: We loved working on the Away store as it was a new kind of brand for us – predominantly online with a very savvy, millennial customer. It was a challenge to translate that spirit into something memorable and playful in a physical context. We thought about the golden age of airline travel and had fun imagining what it would feel like brought up to date for a contemporary millennial audience. This gave us design cues like integrated seating, a lush living wall and reimagined travel stickers.
Kitri will also always be very special because we’ve worked on the brand since its inception, and the store was like a distillation of everything we had put into it. The store was all about colour and contrast, with a strong but feminine palette, surprising materials and really strong emphasis on the initial visual impact. Lots of people couldn’t believe it was only there for a couple of months, which for us is a huge compliment!
Favourite places to shop – and why?
Charlotte: Buly 1803 for the way they create a complete brand experience – from the products to the stores and the packaging, everything has been considered as a whole and it works beautifully.
Duncan: We also love the way the P Johnson tailoring stores look. They’re designed by the founder’s wife Tamsin and perfectly communicate their laid back Australian approach to Italian tailoring with eclectic design furniture and interesting artworks.