Durasport’s interactive Singapore store is a vision of the future
When the Singapore-based studio Ministry of Design was asked to create a sports store in Moshe Safdie’s sprawling new Jewel complex at Changi Airport, it was immediately confronted with the same existential question that has plagued retailers since the relentless rise of internet shopping: ‘How do we make a brick and mortar store relevant in the 21st century?’
The answer it seems, at least so far as the 183 square metre Durasport is concerned, is to insist on a best-in-class inventory that’s intuitively paired to a suite of hi-tech interactive experiences.
It also helps that the store – a futuristic cocoon whose ovaloid floorplan is lined with shimmering stainless steel panels and LED strips – eschews the mass sports market in favour of what lead designer Colin Seah describes as ‘the ultra-performance athlete and sporting enthusiast. The vibe is very much inspired by the analytic thinking and R+D labs in which the products are originally developed.’
To that end, the store is divided into four zones: cycling, arctic, rock-climbing and trizone, each of which is stocked with a small, premium range of clothing, gadgets and accessories – including Ameo swimwear, Hummingbird bikes, and Dynafit ski boots – alongside a piece of hi-tech machinery on which the products can be tested. As Seah puts it, the store and its merchandise is aimed squarely at the athlete who wants to shave an extra second off their performance time.
And so, for instance, the cycling zone features a $30,000 Dassi bicycle that’s perched on a Nero Elite Interactive trainer whose flywheels can be programmed by iPad to simulate slope gradients. Climbing shoes can be tested on a rotating climbing wall, whilst the Pro Ski 360 simulator can be set to freeride or slalom terrain.
Meanwhile, if you’re not sure what that titanium fibre wetsuit looks on you without the hassle of actually trying it on, an interactive mirror superimposes the outfit on your reflection, takes a selfie and emails the picture to you.
For Seah, whose studio was also responsible for developing the brand identity and marketing, Durasport is nothing if not a peek into the future of retailing – one that is both laser-focused on its niche market, and completely immersive in the consumer’s ability to test-run a product before hitting the cashier. ‘It was a real challenge to align the business model with the design,’ he says. Mission accomplished, we say. §