Art is redefining the retail experience

Photo: saiko3p –

For a variety of commercial entities, art is increasingly seen as a design and experiential tool to set the tone of their brand and create a unique customer experience. Installing art installations (paintings, murals, and sculptures) is not necessarily a new phenomenon for luxury commercial venues like retail stores, restaurants, and hotels. Many of these establishments included commissioned art pieces throughout their properties but in a discreet and uniform manner. By the 1970s, however, the trend began to abate as interior design refocused on more homogenous appearances that set one brand theme throughout the site or establishment.

Over the past decade commercial establishments have rediscovered the power of art in interior design. Neiman Marcus was one of the first luxury retailers to rediscover art with it showcasing a rotating installation of works by local artists at its (then) newly constructed store in Walnut Creek, California that made its debut in 2012.

Since then, a variety of newly constructed restaurants, retailers, and hotels have incorporated artworks into their store design. Aventura Mall, a luxury shopping destination in Miami, recently completed a massive remodel that included the addition of permanent commissioned artwork along with installations of rotating pieces (paintings, murals, and sculptures) created by local artists.

Both Neiman Marcus and Aventura Mall have found that rotating art installations provide numerous benefits. They create a more unique and personal shopping experience, provide differentiation from competitors, and perhaps more importantly, drive higher foot traffic. They also enhance the feeling of sophistication and luxury. Called “The Collection”, the Aventura artworks have become so popular that mall management is scheduling tours for the growing number of visitors.

More recently, the art trend is moving to commissioned works by local artists that are more prominent in size and scope, giving a stage-like dimension to the establishments. In most cases, the artwork is murals that cover walls, ceilings, and other surfaces. Whether it’s flat, concave or convex, the mural makes a visual statement.

With environment becoming an increasingly important and integral part of the retail experience, there is no doubt that the role of art will grow in prominence in shaping the interior design of commercial spaces that not only include retail stores, hotels, and restaurants, but other venues as well. Rotating art installations like the ones described at Neiman Marcus and the Aventura Mall will continue to proliferate. The most rapid growth, however, will occur with commissioned artwork that will be integrated into the commercial space’s interior design.

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