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  • OVS Via Dante – experiential retail store for the 21st century customer

    A recent study of the European e-commerce industry conducted by RetailMeNot and the Centre for Retail Research, suggests that e-commerce sales will increase by 18.4% in 2015, while offline retail sales will decrease by 1.4%. With e-commerce chewing into brick and mortar sales year on year, PwC reports that “most traditional retailers are facing the biggest challenge in their histories: How do they meet consumers’ expectations of a seamless shopping experience?”

    The answer lies in cross-channel integration. VP of Marketing & Business Development at Shipwire, Nate Gilmore says “retailers with a tightly integrated online and offline experience are winning by perfecting the buyer experience on the buyer’s terms.” Some of the examples include

    1. ‘Health kiosks’ within Lloyds Pharmacy stores. The kiosks are “interactive touchscreens and printers that allow customers to browse its entire product line, place orders and pay for goods via credit card”, says Christopher Ratcliff, Deputy Editor at Econsultancy.
    2. Macy’s iOS app Shopkick that alerts the customers who enter the store about deals and items they may be interested in.
    3. The OVS Digital Experience corner within the OVS flagship store in Via Dante. It gives customers an omni-channel experience that includes “a new virtual changing room, sales assistants supporting clients with iPads, multi-media totems and click-and-collect services” says Maria Cristina Pavarini, Senior Features Editor at Sportswear International.

    We have looked at how the OVS Via Dante store serves as an example of how e-commerce, digital marketing and retail can be successfully merged to deliver a unique customer experience.

    March 2015 issue of Design: Retail Magazine featured the store as one of 10 retailers worldwide “who are challenging the paradigm with thoughtful, inspiring and new ideas.” The three-storey boutique spreads over 900 square metres with a large wall mirror with light cuts connecting the floors. The new architectural design by Vincenzo De Cotiis Architects brings together new expressive codes such as the small, free‐standing furnishing units, and pre‐existing features on the first floor that have been taken back to their original colours.


    The OVS Digital Experience corner is situated on the first floor. It was designed by agencies NARAI and Nuvò. The interactive Kiosk enables customers to read the bar code of an item of interest and immediately verify its availability, along with sizes and colours. Additionally, they can purchase and pay by credit card, and ship the product home or pick it up at the check outs, says Monica Gagliardi,e-commerce and CRM Manager of the Gruppo Coin. OVS partnered up with Google Enterprise to make this a reality.


    Totem concept render. Source:

    OVS Via Dante store provides an experience that cannot be delivered by e-commerce. Its success confirms the opinion of Neil Masterton, design director of ARM Architecture who believes “retail isn’t exactly about functionalism, it isn’t specifically about ease and isn’t specifically about straightforwardness… what people want in retail is actually a set of different kinds of urban experiences.”

    This article is based on the official information surrounding the OVS Via Dante store.

  • ‘The School on the Terraces’ sets an example for how the school of the future should look

    2016 will see the completion of a new primary school in the heart of Denmark’s city of Aarhus that will replace the existing school N.J. Fjordsgades Skole. The city of Aarhus commissioned an expert team including contractor Hoffmann, Henning Larsen Architects, GPP Architects, landscape architects Møller & Grønborg and consulting engineer NIRAS to build a “healthy, inspiring learning and teaching environment centred on the pupils, staff and guests – and where efficiency, comfort and responsibility are key elements.”



    To create such space, the project team took an integrated energy design approach and combined it with state-of-the-art principles for learning and play. Signe Kongebro, Erik Hansson and Martha Lewis worked on the strategy for sustainability that will meet the energy requirements of the 2020 Danish building code.

    Henning Larsen Architects detail the key elements of the sustainability strategy. These are energy, indoor climate and materials. When combined together they create a healthy, efficient, and comfortable environment for all stakeholders. The project’s sponsors feel that “the new building sends a clear signal of Aarhus City’s emphasis on sustainability and energy consumption and demonstrates a school that actively contributes to future-proofing the society which the pupils will form part of in the future.”

    To build a healthy school, architects say “a variety of measures have been incorporated, including a well-insulated building envelope with a heat loss factor that exceeds the 2020 energy code requirements by 50 percent… All materials are selected on the basis of life span, quality, operation and maintenance.” Furthermore, they say that design for the new school is based on “the growing body of research showing that children learn more in a good indoor climate.” Such conditions were achieved by taking into account the environmental and health-related impact of materials, as well building design, orientation and positioning of windows.

    The new school is organised as a four leaf clover with the four clusters interconnected via three atria. The new structure is a result of putting “daylight, human scale and dynamic spaces as an integral part of the new building. Each cluster features a small common square with niches, reading hammocks, mobile workshops and multi-purpose furniture.” They function as a standalone unit with own unique identity, thus dividing the school into smaller units. Each unit incorporates the outside terraces as open workshops hence enabling both indoor and outdoor active learning.



    The new building will spread across 15,000-square-metres, and will offer afterschool programmes as well as day care. Henning Larsen Architects believe its two faces – the urban look and the green landscape for activity, make it a unique environment for all stakeholders. Kristian Würtz, Alderman in the Department of Children and Youth Affairs in Aarhus believes “it is an excellent proposal for how the school of the future should look.”

    This article is based on the official information surrounding the construction of ‘The School on the Terraces.’

  • Using colour in design to assist the healing process

    A growing trend in hospital design is the creation of a stimulating, stress free space for users. The application of colour in healthcare design and its connection to mood and health has been a much discussed topic. In her 2010 article “Healing Hues: Using Color to Improve Health” Angela Wright details how “colour affects us physiologically as well as emotionally.” By stimulating the nervous system, colours can influence mood and provoke reactions, hence their use “can make environments more peaceful and less anxiety provoking. This translates into a positive mood, which encourages the healing process.” Wright is not alone in her deductions. Faber Birren’s research for his book “Light, Color, and Environment” backs them up by further elaborating that “bright and vivid colours could arouse and increase autonomic functions, blood pressure, heart and respiration rate”, whereas “softer colours create an inward response – one of calm and repose.”

    Hospitals are building on these insights by commissioning acknowledged artists specialising in colour early in the design process. One such example is the Van Swieten building within Martini Hospital in Groningen that saw the famous Dutch colour artist Peter Struycken joining forces with architect Arnold Burger and interior designer Bart Vos. By making colour an integral part of both the architectural design and structural concept, the three delivered against the brief that was to build a healing, non-clinical environment with the ability to change in time. Other guiding principles for the architecture of the hospital included access to daylight, views, and orientation.

    To create a flexible building with fewer fixed functions and a lot of access to daylight, Burger and Vos designed a modular-system called “Industrial, Flexible, and Demountable” – IFD with demountable modular walls and furniture. Struycken then composed a 47-colour palette from which Burger and Vos selected 19 including red, orange, yellow, green, blue, pink and purple.

    Peter Struycken’s colour palette used by Vos and Burger. Source: Hospital Build & Infrastructure Magazine, Issue 1, 2013

    In her 2013 interview with The Hospital Build & Infrastructure Magazine, Corinne Molenaar from Vos Interior details the strategy behind colour application. “For the actual application of colours in the new building, Burger and Vos selected 19 colours from the palette of 47, five of which were relatively neutral colours for the walls and floors. So there are plenty of colours left for future use. For the application of colours, a matrix was developed. This is a set of rules by which colours are distributed in the available space… By not thinking in terms of colour-groups, nor in terms of specific wards, but rather in terms of the hospital as a whole, each ward was now treated the same, and discussions about colour were avoided. The hospital floors were coloured wing by wing, rather than on a room by room basis. Within one room, a specific colour-field on a wall or floor could therefore unexpectedly change into a different colour. This way, it was possible to create varied rooms, whereby no two rooms in the building were the same… Based on the matrix, the colours have been rolled out through the entire building and have been translated onto the exterior as well.”

    Source: Hospital Build & Infrastructure Magazine, Issue 1, 2013

    Molenaar further reports that “research has shown that patients and staff react positively to colour, and that they are less likely to feel like they are in a hospital.” Based on both official statements related to the project, and generally the research available on the subject, we can safely conclude that using colour in healthcare design elevates the spirit of all stakeholders.

    This article is grounded on the existing literature surrounding trends in healthcare architecture and design.

  • How The Royal London Hospital used design to be less intimidating

    The Royal London Hospital is one of six hospitals owned and managed by the largest NHS Trust in the UK – Barts Health. The trust is one of Britain’s healthcare providers leading the way in improving patient experience. One of the strategies for making this a reality is funding a charity organisation, Vital Arts, to drive arts programmes that transform the hospital experience for all stakeholders.

    In their preparation to transform the Royal London’s interior, Vital Arts conducted a series of consultations with hospital staff and patients to choose fifteen designers and artists for the project. Each of them was given a specific area to decorate, including reception areas, play spaces, elevator lobbies, and various ward settings. To make the interior less intimidating for all, the artists had to consider multiple factors prior to creating a colour palette that would deliver the brief.

    Some of the most predominantly used colours in this project include green, yellow, orange, and blue. This direction might tally with a 2012 interview in Healthcare Design magazine, with director of colour marketing for Sherwin-Williams, Jackie Jordan. Jordan recommends a balance of warm and cool colours for healthcare settings. “Cool colours tend to be more calming, so things that are in the blues and the blue-greens, really put people at ease because they do bring a sense of tranquility”. She further explains how “soothing colours can affect a patient’s mood and even contribute to the healing process.” On the other hand, stimulating colours such as vibrant yellows and reds for children’s hospitals, specifically activity rooms “where children are going to have some fun for the day participating in crafts, for example.”

    The new interior design of the Royal London includes painted illustrations, wood pieces, porcelain sculptures, and other 3D design elements. Director of Nursing and Governance for Children at Barts Health NHS Trust, Sally Shearer said “these fun designs are an important part of our commitment to easing children’s fears of being in a seemingly strange and scary building, to instead create a warm and comforting place of healing.”


    Respiratory (Ward 7E) by Miller Goodman. Source:

    Haematology (Ward 7F) by Donna Wilson. Source:

    Trauma and gastroenterology (Wing 7D) by Morag Myerscough. Source:

    The idea of creating a world away from the ward is based on research proving the positive effect of environments that help reduce patient’s anxiety, both in children and adults. Those effects amount to an increase in patient’s appetite, better response to treatment, even pain relief. Textile artist Ella Doran who designed the bedside curtains with a panoramic view of the Thames confirmed the project’s success. “A seminal moment for me was when a three-year-old girl stopped crying the moment she saw the curtains, pointing excitedly to the hidden cats and rabbits. That’s when I knew my design had worked.” The Trust feel that the new interior helped in making the hospital less scary for kids, in addition to helping nurses bond and build trust with their small patients, which makes performing medical tasks much easier.

    This article is based on industry research and the official information surrounding the project.









  • Concept Furniture International

    Concept Furniture international supply hire furniture to the events and exhibition industry globally. It’s a fast paced, image conscious industry demanding high quality products and exceptional service. According to Iain Love, Sales Director at Concept Furniture;
    “The demands from our contract manufacturing division sees us working with suppliers who can meet our specific needs, delivering quality products and services – Chieftain Fabrics are definitely one such supplier”.

    As Aviation Week’s show MRO moves around the globe, Concept Furniture International moves with it – this year the prestigious event was held in the Spanish capital Madrid and was a huge success, the perfect mix of fantastic exhibitors, weather & location made it an event to remember. Concept Furniture International are the official furniture supplier to MRO supplying both space only and shell scheme areas with original designs and a wide range of soft furnishings that are upholstered using Chieftain fabrics leatherette vinyl.


    Milanos DT20 seating at The MRO Europe Exhibition, Madrid, Spain.

    Jojo and Bow seating at The MRO Europe Exhibition, Madrid, Spain.

    Oakley black seating at The MRO Europe Exhibition, Madrid, Spain.

    With the bespoke and rental segments of the business growing rapidly we have been able to work with high-end clients and showcase our work on many platforms. The diverse textures and colours Chieftain offer help us add value to our proposition and exceed customer needs.

    For more information see

  • Birmingham Children’s Hospital


    HB Furniture supply the finest British furniture using a close network of talented people, their products are manufactured in the UK using a combination of traditional skills, new technology and the finest materials. The Curve Collection was developed in conjunction with an interior designer for Birmingham Children’s Hospital specifically for the main reception in the children’s ward.


    HB Furniture: “The initial brief was to create a fun, dynamic and practical seating layout which would appeal to the patients and parents. We focused on specific requirements for both private consulting areas and general seating and play areas.”

    HB Furniture also introduced the curve booth which allows patients and nurses to have private areas for consultation.  In contrast, the large back to back curve seating areas allowed the children to have free reign. All furniture produced was made to the highest standard in terms of frame and foam construction to guarantee a robust and comfortable product.


    The Curv Booth


    In terms of finish and fabric selection, HB Furniture chose the Chieftain Fabrics Just Colour range principally for the colours and technical specification that it offered within a hospital environment. Chieftain Fabrics have over 60 years experience in the design and production of high-quality performance fabric and contract upholstery and with their unique mix of specialist expertise, innovative R&D and advanced materials, Chieftain Fabrics produce an inherently better fabric which was an ideal fit for HB Furniture.

    HB: “It was critical that this fabric had antimicrobial and stain resistant qualities combined with a crib 5 fire rating.”

    With regards to the general construction of these products, all sewing and stitch lines were reinforced to add to the longevity of the seating.

    Formed in 1998 by Richard Berry and Gordon Hunter, hb has evolved into an established company committed to providing a professional and creative service, promoting the very best of British design and manufacture. To learn more about hb, visit