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gpstudio, the luxury retail design consultancy, has just completed a flagship store in the heart of Piccadilly for The Whisky Shop, fulfilling the brief of creating a truly different customer experience. The Whisky Shop is the largest whisky-only specialist in the country, with 20 shops nationwide. The new store, which opened its doors for the first time on the 22nd November, is their twenty-first opening.

The design had two main objectives – educating and informing the consumer, and conveying a sense of the skill and craftsmanship involved in the creation of the fascinating luxury product. Whilst it makes a strong statement, the new store ultimately aims to be welcoming and accessible. This guided the split of the space into three distinct sections; “show me”, “tell me” and “sell me”.

The first of these rooms, “show me”, showcases key whisky houses, distillers and product brands. gpstudio worked very closely with each of these groups on their design plans, including the houses and distillers Pernod Ricard and Whyte & MacKay, as well as product brands such as Chivas Brothers, Royal Salute, The Glenlivet and The Dalmore. In appreciation of the rich heritage and expertise of the product, the spirits are presented in the same way as a fine perfume.

The “tell me” room centres on the educational aspect of the consumer experience. This room explains the process of making whisky – how the flavours are created, the importance of the aging process, and how this impacts on the sensory experiences of taste and smell – as well as dispelling many of the common myths about whisky. The third and final room is a Library of whisky, where customers can choose from a vast selection of the most prestigious whiskies in the world.

Across all three rooms, timber, copper and glass have been carefully interplayed to ensure a contemporary styling that still gave a nod to tradition, referencing the heritage of the products sold. The latest display technology has been used throughout the store, with tablets to inform and educate customers about their choices.

Stuart Naysmith, Partner at gpstudio, says, “It was clear that education and discovery was an incredibly important part of the customer experience, which is why it was so central to our ideas. We immersed ourselves in complexities of the product, and tried to incorporate what we learnt into the design. We even designed bespoke neon angel wings that will hang in the Library, in reference to the whisky-making terminology of ‘the angels share’.”

Andrew Torrance, Managing Director of The Whisky Shop, said: “Our vision for the new London flagship store was to raise the bar for whisky retailing by offering customers a new and unique whisky retail experience which is both luxurious and accessible at the same time.”

“gpstudio brought a fresh and innovative approach to the design of the store, tapping into the heritage of whisky as a product whilst also challenging perceptions and ripping up the rule book of traditional whisky retailing. Their experience in catering for high end luxury consumers has been instrumental in the visual and experiential treatment of the space, bringing a theatrical quality to the art of retail.”

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