In many cultures around the world, we are used to seeing and shopping for fresh items – vegetables, fruit, meat, fish, spices, bread or flowers – at public markets, at individual old-fashioned neighbourhood specialty stores (the butchers, fishmongers, bakeries, flower shops) and of course at large grocery stores.
But one by one, these fresh categories have also started to pop up in new guises – as sleek and inviting boutiques.
Well-designed, usually high-end shops selling wine, tea, coffee and cheeses are common. Tasting, testing, enjoying, teaching and learning are often also part of these concepts.
And more fresh categories are catching up.
Here at TCH, we have written, for example, about cool meat stores where meat is treated not just as something we eat and enjoy, but as an item of display-worthy beauty and an object of true connoisseurs’ interest. The same has been happening with bakeries where bread, bread-making and bread knowledge are relating not just to food but also to design and branding.
Next up, we believe, are flowers.
Unlike meat that is not particularly beautiful in the traditional sense, or wine that is generally packaged in a more or less boring bottle, flowers as merchandise are things of beauty in themselves.
Perhaps this, and also flowers’ fragility and fleeting freshness, is behind the fact that flower shops have not generally appeared all that interesting or edgy from store design, branding or customer experience perspective.
But a few examples have caught our eye that are on their way to realizing the full potential of the flower boutique category.
In Shanghai, China, July’s Flower is showing that a florist’s shop does not need to be little, quaint or cute.
Designed and branded by Shanghai-based Alberto Caiola July’s uses open space, mirrors, brushed metal, exposed concrete and terrazzo flooring to create a sleek environment in which the presence of flowers is highlighted and multiplied with mirrors and high custom containers.
Also in China, this florist is sleek and airy, but the overall effect is gentler and softer.
Light and the absence of distractions drew us to this great little project. Absolute is an elegant 42 square-metre (42 asg.t.) florist shop on a nicely treed stretch of a boutique-lined street in Shanghai, China.
Architects Kong Rui and Fan Beilei, who founded Genarchitects in 2012, have created a peaceful, airy space by combining a small rectangular room with an adjoining front courtyard.
The design team, that included Chen Xiaoyi, Xue Zhe and You Wei as well, removed the dividing wall and covered the courtyard with a glass roof whichadds not just more room but more light to the otherwise non-descript space.
By the repeating a delicate arch motif in the white, light-weight furnishings, the designers have achieved an ethereal and somehow gamine feel as if the counters and fixtures were standing Bambi-like, erect and alert with minimal footprints.
We love the fact that the entire floor is visible – yet another smart way to make the area seem much larger than it is.
Potafiori, at Via Salasco in Milan, Italy, is rich proof of how Italians see and conjure up beauty in everyday things, and in seemingly unsuitable pairings.
A florists’ shop metamorphosed into a café and jazz venue through the owner’s many talents and interests.
Milan-based Strorage Associati’s Marco Donati, Michele Pasini and Barbara Ghidoni helped the multi-talented Rosalba Piccinni se t up the environment where she can sell flowers and sing jazz while her friend Maria Grazia Senatore can show her culinary prowess in the kitchen.
It’s a flower bistro. A floral night club. A café with a flourishing attitude. Why not? Everyone wins.
Blush, in the upscale Parnell neighbourhood of Auckland, New Zealand, gives the idea of a beautiful flower shop a completely new meaning.
Yes, it is beautiful, but it is also incredibly fresh and sophisticated.
A soft white overall envelope, strong, reflective golden brass surfaces, and the palest of pink-blush pastel accents create an impressively convincing milieu.
Owner and creative director Kelly Karam had the brass counters and ladders custom-made for the shop and she also had the foresight – or should we say common sense? – to understand that many clients spend thousands of dollars for flowers for special events, for their home or for their business.
The deserve better than what they get in most floral shops.
Doesn’t it make sense to offer your advice and consultation in an environment where you and your clients can sit down and enjoy the process of creating that special wedding concept, that special big celebration, or that all-important centerpiece?
Also worth mentioning is Blush’s packaging, created by Think Pack. Soft pink flower carriers and elegant packaging stand out and fit the brand perfectly. Tuija Seipell.
We love the masculine vibe of Fine Blooms in the Boxpark shopping complex in Dubai.
London-based Universal Design Studio has created a floral boutique that is completely void of the customary daintiness and frilly embellishments.
Marble and strong, solid elements accentuate the elegance and singularity of the flowers that are sourced from around the world and of the customized floral arrangements created in the shop.
The stunning design elements in the 114 square-metre (1,227 sq. ft) store include the oversize-chip terrazzo floor in green marble and, as the centrepiece of the space, a large, sculptural counter of oxblood jesmonite.
A private VIP area is partitioned from the main shop with a curved screen of recycled leather and a bespoke traditional rug was also commissioned for the floor.
Evoking the desert landscape, the designers commissioned a 15-metre exposed aggregate wall for one side of the boutique. It serves as a backdrop for Fine Blooms to exhibit bespoke pieces by local and international artists.
For example, glassware created from Dubai sand by Turkish designer Rezzan Hasoglu and ceramics by well-known UAE-based designers Talin Hazbar and Latifa Saeed were commissioned for display and sale in the shop.