Interview with Dietmar Hasenöhrl, Head of TEAM 7 Flagshipstores, Ried im Innkreis, Upper Austria
Nature is very trendy in store design, but this is more than a short-lived fashion according to Dietmar Hasenöhrl. He sees a paradigm shift in society that also captures the retail market. But how does a furniture company whose products are made of natural finish wood design its stores? How much space for store design is there actually available in a furniture store? The family company Team 7 near Salzburg has manufactured furniture since 1959 for the home, offices and public buildings. The company only uses local solid hardwood from sustainable managed forests.
Nature is very trendy in store design. What do you think about that?
Natural materials create a one-of-a-kind atmosphere. They appeal to all senses, touch the soul and seduce you with their tactile eroticism. Goethe once said that you grasp with your eyes and see with your fingers. Where everything is smooth and interchangeable, natural haptics takes on an ever more important role. But above all else, wood is the most environmentally friendly basic material and quite simply THE material of the 21st century: it binds CO2, grows again and completely blends back into nature’s cycle.
There is a paradigm shift in our society: values such as community and responsibility are getting more and more important – especially for younger people. More and more people rethink their consumer buying habits. Instead of consuming more, people consume with more awareness: the sales receipt turns into a ballot for ecological and fair production. This awareness has also found its way into the retail market.
You offer furniture made with untreated wood. Who are your customers?
Our clientele includes many LOHAS customers, meaning people who prefer a “lifestyle of health and sustainability“. They emphasize health, sustainability, but also comfort and design. They don’t view ecology as a relinquishment but rather as a treat. Taken as a whole however, we have a heterogeneous customer structure – ranging from the design freak all the way to the hardcore greenie. What all of them have in common however is their love for wood and its detail-oriented, artisan processing. We have many high-income customers, but also customers who have to save up to buy their furniture. On the whole we see an increased willingness to invest in permanent values. Rather than buying more, people buy fewer, but better products instead.
What demands are you making on your own stores?
The TEAM 7 brand and its message have to be felt. We link design and nature, use only precious woods from local forests and only treat them with natural herbal oils. Our slogan therefore is also “It’s a tree story“. This motto pervades all of our own stores. We design them the same way we view our brand: natural, aesthetic and contemporary. Besides that we pay attention to putting our latest conceptual designs and bestsellers in the right place. It is important for us to stage the living spaces so the customer can identify with them. If he/she steps into our store and says, “Wow, this is how I would like to live“, we have done a lot of things right. After all, a display has to first and foremost wow people and whet their appetite.
How many stores do you have so far and how many are planned?
There are 17 mono-brand stores at this point, seven of which we run ourselves. In addition, internationally we have more than 500 retail outlets. We pay attention to having the best places in town for our own flagship stores. The exhibition spaces of our brand name stores range between 450 and 800 square meters – enough space to be able to ideally display open living situations and our range of products for different living spaces. In terms of our retail outlets we also have guidelines as to design and space. Our creative team has designed detailed mood boards for this on which our partners in the market like to fall back on.
In March you want to open a new flagship store in Graz, Austria. What is going to change compared to your previous stores?
Our brand concept “Design meets Nature“ is of course also our main focus in this case. The presentation of all living spaces, the best sellers, our novelties – the cross-section is basically the same as in our other stores. However, there is one important difference: the individual layouts of the spaces are designed true to the motto "small & beautiful". The presentation in Graz is true-to-life and also accommodates small floor plans. We demonstrate for instance that a natural wood kitchen also looks beautiful in a small space. What’s more, we change the window display quite frequently, which allows for more frequency on-site. You can already see from the outside that there is always something new going on in the store. The customers should be able to say: “Let’s see what’s new at TEAM 7.
Furniture pieces are large products. Is there actually much design freedom left for shopfitting companies?
It is the furniture that’s being showcased – if anything, traditional shopfitting elements take a back seat in our stores. The accessories are also being integrated as decorative elements in the living spaces. That’s why there is no classic boutique area. Our brochure display stands are also designed in a very low-keyed way: they consist of a simple natural wood board with the Team 7 logo and transparent glass slots in which the brochures are being placed.
The eye catcher at the entrance is a cubic, white reception counter with the TEAM 7 logo. In our stores we use LED backlit, stylized trees with the leaves of our logo as a design element and showcase a lengthwise cut walnut tree trunk which – mounted horizontally at waist level – invites customers to “grasp“ the sensual wood material and thus conveys our brand message.
In the furniture store, customers don’t just look for furniture pieces, but also for design and decorating ideas. What kind of role do accessories play?
This year we have incorporated accessories into our program. They emphasize the respective living areas without appearing too excessive or distracting from the actual furniture. Accessories take on an ever larger importance in furniture retail. For us it is a chance to already show on a small scale what TEAM 7 can do: the most beautiful craftsmanship combined with perfect aesthetics. Oftentimes these accessories are the beginning of a long friendship.
How do you choose the lighting and the floors?
Lighting is extremely important in our stores. We prefer a sophisticated “warm“ white light which deliberately does not illuminate the entire setting, but creates selected beautiful accents instead.
The floors are white and provide a beautiful contrast to the natural wood. Light colored floors illuminate and showcase the wood without making themselves the center of attention. It is especially important for natural wood furniture to set itself apart as a contrast from the floor.
What kinds of trends do you see in wall design – in shopfitting, in commercial furniture or in living areas?
Textured plaster, stone walls, wallpaper or wall paint: walls are getting cozier – we are a long way away from clean whites in shopfitting as well as in living spaces. Many natural materials with textures are being used, but individual color accents are also being created. Especially in wall design a lot has happened over the past few years. It strikingly shows the trend towards more comfort and individuality. We implement these current trends in our stores, but we always pay attention for them not to dominate the living space. That’s why an essential success factor of TEAM 7 is the high planning expertise and expert advisory skills of our comprehensively trained sales assistants and interior designers. From flooring to wall design all the way to lighting, they suggest harmonious solutions to the customer.
Interview by René Schellbach, Euroshop.de