First and foremost, do we even know what minimalism is and where it comes from? Minimalism is a trend in design and architecture where all unnecessary elements are removed. Appearing in the 1960s, minimalism is inspired by Japanese traditional design and in the last few decades, we have seen the influence of this design trend into retail. Everything now seems to show that minimalism in retail is here to stay.
If so many different retailers are banking on a minimalist design, it is probably because of its many advantages. By keeping only the necessities, space become functional and in doing so, the intensity of performance and effectiveness of the store is heightened. Clean lines create an elegant area that really highlights the product and only the product. Items stand on their own, either you notice them by their style, their color or their type but you notice them; and mostly importantly, that’s the point. The use of light colors; either white or pastels help construct a spacious are while black and wood build a streamlined look. Nothing is more timeless than these colors and the store will be timeless and never go out of fashion, which tends to happen when trying to follow easily obsolete trends. By being out of time, a calm space in a store allows customers to escape from the city, as we know can be exhausting, especially in Hong Kong.
Having a minimalist design in a store is not only about making the space functional and also to add nice to look to it. Indeed there have been studies showing how it affects customers. The Asian Journal of Marketing in 2014 published an almost 50 pages long report, Role of Shopping Motives, Age and Gender in Evaluating Retail Atmosphere Cues, that tested the reaction of different customers during their shopping experience. It amongst others explains why fashion stores, including luxury stores, care so much about the design. It turns out that the power of atmosphere is extremely high when shopping for pleasure whilst almost inexistent for utilitarian shopping. Of course, if customers are taking some of their free time to browse through malls and stores, they are looking for happiness, peace and a relaxing moment. Even if going shopping can sometimes seem to be quite a stressful time, its therapeutic effects have been proven. Having a very clear visual merchandising limits the confusion from the consumer, as superfluous objects restrict the shopper movement. Crowding either from other customers or furniture affect satisfaction, loyalty and experience.
Talking about virtual merchandising, the thing about minimalist design is that clothing is dressing up the space. By finding the good lines, the brand is finding the good identity. Take A.P.C, cos, Aesop or maje (see pictures below) that cleared their space and built their store character.
Minimalism as a trend is showing that less is more; it is all the more true for luxury brands. They are selling their distinct items, their identity and because it is esthetically pleasing and recognizable, that is what their customers really love.