Loaf, a British home furnishings retailer, began life as an e-commerce site, but broadened its offer when it opened a bricks and mortar space last year. Now it has opened another physical store, this time in London’s upmarket Notting Hill. Innovation researcher, Lamorna Byford, went along to find out why the brand calls it a ‘slowroom’, rather than a showroom…
I chose the hottest day of the year to cycle to the Loaf Shack in Notting Hill and I arrive flustered. Immediately I am offered a complimentary drink from one of the many customer fridges dotted around the store. This is just one of the touches that reflect the brand’s aim – to create a ‘try before you buy’ space, where consumers can genuinely relax and imagine themselves living with the products.
The ground floor showcases sofas and lounge furniture arranged with trendy clutter that makes the spaces feel lived in and personal. Upstairs, the airy loft includes a mattress testing area, where customers can lie on beds and stare at the wire cloud sculptures that hang from the ceiling. In the basement, sofas are lined up like cinema seats in front of a screen showing the 80s cult classic film, Back To The Future, on repeat. All of these interactive areas encourage customers to linger and engage with the laid-back brand identity.
For parents, the colouring station within the store, the retro computer games and the foosball table dotted amongst the furniture will keep bored children entertained. The interaction extends to the adults’ experience too. Mac computers let customers personalise their purchases with bespoke measurements and a choice of 140 coverings. Purchases can be completed in-store – by going online or by talking to the friendly staff – or at home, via the Loaf website or phone number.
It never hurts to envelop your retail brand in a beautiful space and this store utilises the charm of its loft-like building well. As well as being brochure-ready aesthetically, there are social touches throughout the store, the best of which is a giant teddy bear by the front door that is aching to be Instagrammed.
Similar to the Pirch flagship in New York’s Soho, Loaf has succeeded in creating a space that you can genuinely imagine yourself living in. There is nothing complicated going on in this store. Rather, it is designed thoughtfully and logically to address each pain-point a customer might experience while buying furniture and is a reminder that the best retail executions are firmly insight-led. The path to purchase is relaxed and enjoyable, perfectly achieving the ‘slowroom’ effect that they aimed to create.