• Play Retail Ltd.

Hyper-natural Environments

Insight by Will Mutter, Designer at Play Retail

Hyper-nature is an exaggerated simulation of a nature that never truly existed. Designers are utilising this theme to create enhanced visual experiences, which are both eye-catching and engaging. Our philosophy at Play is to “think, feel and do”. We are admirers of hyper-natural environments particularly in retail but, also in art, design and architecture.

Natural environments have the ability to create ‘wow’ moments, evoking a positive emotion that stays with us as memories. A successful example of a hyper-natural environment can be seen at Singapore’s newly designed Jewel Changi Airport. In the centre of the main retail/dining area is the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, at 40m high. There are multiple viewing platforms to view this incredible water feature, all of which are surrounded by the immersive Shiseido Valley Forest. All senses are heightened, with the sounds of crashing water, smell of blossoming flowers and a refreshing mist that fills the atrium adding to the stunning visual atmosphere.

But how can we use hyper-nature to increase sensorial experiences for shoppers in retail?

Louis Vuitton’s Selfridges pop-up, from 2018, enticed shoppers into a waking dream, reflecting the inspiration behind the fragrance on display. The flora and fauna, was designed as delicate flowers in shades of pink and silver suspended from the ceiling accompanied by oversized metallic butterflies. Not only did it provide an immersive environment but, it was also an informative piece depicting the perfume notes within the fragrance.

Similarly, Pernod Ricard applied this hyper-natural trend within his latest travel retail pop-up for Perrier-Jouët, in Charles de Gaulle Airport. The centrepiece is a tree designed especially for the Maison, featuring curves, petals and colours inspired by the artist’s journey to the Champagne region of France. A sharing experience has also been created, with the centrepiece being a backdrop for customer polaroid photos, taken by brand ambassadors. By exaggerating the simulation of nature, we as designers can attract consumers into immersive branded opportunities, so as to encourage customers to be loyal to brands and engage in repeat purchase of product.

Anthropologie has also started to adopt a hyper-natural approach to their front of shop, hanging colourful vines to entice shoppers into their space. This simple execution is both cost effective and invites a sense of curiosity.

In summation, hyper-natural environments are being utilised more frequently to engage and excite shoppers. By taking inspiration from natural environments, brands can scale down these sensorial experiences and apply them into successful retail applications. These experiences can range from being immersive and informative activations, sharing opportunities and forms of visual disruption. A successful hyper-natural retail experience, will be something out of the ordinary, that captures the attention of passers-by, informs them about the product on sale and encourages brand loyalty.

Will Mutter