Please touch! Material gets to tell a story

Interview with Hannes Bäuerle, Raumprobe

11/02/2015

Retailers have many choices when they design their stores. The large variety of materials ranging from wood to concrete and the endless options of colors and shape of design elements are hard to fathom. And what exactly is the latest trend? Interior designer and co-owner of Raumprobe, Hannes Bäuerle, has an amazing overview.

Image: Hannes Bäuerle; Copyright: raumPROBE

Hannes Bäuerle: "The whole body perceives materials"; © raumPROBE

Mr. Bäuerle, together with your colleague Joachim Stumpp you are watching over an enormous collection of materials in your exhibition Raumprobe in Stuttgart. You just presented the Materialpreis (English: Material Award) for "Material in Application", including the area of "Color & Decor" to the MRQT Boutique in Stuttgart. What makes this particular project so special?

Hannes Bäuerle: The idea of the Material Award is to show which projects use materials in an innovative and high-quality fashion. As the central design element in the store, the MRQT Boutique displays a wall installation made of 22,000 wood slats in different lengths and arrangements which are evocative of shapes and filigree structures of textiles and mesh. It forms a unique setting for the articles on the clothing racks in front of the wall. Despite its minimalist design, the store creates a warm and inviting ambiance along with the bright walls and the polished concrete floors.

How can certain materials in store design influence the effect on the customer?

Bäuerle: Among other things, materials convey quality and evoke emotions. Combined with color, they can also target and present current trends. The whole body perceives materials. Haptics is more than just touching objects, because we experience surfaces by looking at them, walking on them and touching them with our hands. They raise certain expectations.

Admittedly, this knowledge of haptics has become a sleeping beauty in our digitally shaped world. It is rarely perceived as a truly effective marketing tool. This is why there is a lot of slumbering potential in this area.

What do retailers need to factor in when they outfit their store and select materials?

Bäuerle: I would recommend consulting a professional designer. On the one hand, it is more efficient while it ensures higher quality on the other. It also doesn’t have to be twice as expensive; shopfitters and craftsmen often already have planning departments. They are able to design more freely, know different materials and have a more objective point of view.

They are able to consider all of the factors, ranging from the appeal of the materials via their durability, cleanability, uniqueness all the way to haptics. Looking just at the lower price makes sense for a discounter but has no place here. Apart from that, I advise to literally “grasp” the materials in the truest sense of the word to choose them.
Image: Cloth; Copyright: Daniel Stauch

The Swiss architectural firm ROK - Rippmann Oesterle Knauss developed the concept and took over the planning for the MRQT boutique in Stuttgart; © Daniel Stauch

What materials are currently the latest trend?

Bäuerle: One frequent question right now is whether to choose matte finished or polished surfaces. I can answer this: neither one of them! It is the super matte and super polished new designs that make everything "normal" pale in comparison. Until now, matte finished surfaces were not terribly suitable for a store since you constantly had fingerprints on them. With the new super matte finished surfaces, they are clearly less visible and the light infraction is also significantly higher. The highly polished looks are even more brilliant and most notably scratch-resistant. Hence, both of these surfaces offer brand-new possibilities.

I also believe the time has come when materials are allowed to once again develop a true patina. Brass, for instance, is permitted to tarnish again over the years and get marks. The material is allowed to tell a story. It no longer has to look like it has just been installed.

In your materials report where you show materials online, you can also tell by the number of hits which ones the designers’ favorites are.

Bäuerle: Yes, that’s true. One perennial hit that still enjoys increasing popularity is wood including all of the new wood-related material developments. This is perhaps also due to the fact that there is a certain amount of rethinking in terms of fire safety in construction. Although wood burns timber structures can tolerate quite a lot until the static values give in.

Which senses influence you personally the most when you enter a store?

Bäuerle: Of course, I gain my first impression with my eyes, linked to form and colors. However, I noticed that I am more strongly affected by my ears and haptics. I generally have a hard time making a decision without a haptic experience because then I know intuitively whether I perceive a product as robust or of premium quality. Addressing all five senses will be the future challenge for retailers.


Author: Natascha Mörs; EuroShop
First publication at iXtenso.com