Retail Design Trend: Minimalism

Around the middle of the century a design style became popular, termed ‘minimalism’. Designers and architects experimented with the concept of paring back to the bare essentials. Anything excess was removed, if it didn’t have a functional reason for being there. The flip side of minimalism is that the things that are left are highly functional, streamlined for performance and effective.
 Believe it or not, minimalism has found its way into retail.

There’s no need to take the concept to extremes, you need to keep products to sell! However, there’s no doubt that applying some of the principals in your store may be beneficial – consider it in this light:

  • With less distracting decorative elements, people will be more likely to notice the products you are selling.
  • Minimalism means lower costs
  • With a peaceful and almost empty environment, you will promote happiness – a feeling people want to take with them, thereby improving the likelihood that they will buy something
  • A shop free from clutter means you will notice shoppers, and be able to greet them, and notice shoplifters too!
  • You will have to spend less time on improving and maintaining the appearance of your store, giving you more time to do other things.
  • A highly functional shop means shoppers won’t be left confused
  • If your fixtures and decor are neutral toned, your shop won’t date, and each new season of stock will be much more effective in renewing the overall look of your shop.

 Here are some examples of minimal design in shops:


This pharmacy is in northern Portugal, and is a boutique pharmacy that has been in operation for 25 years. It has an onsite laboratory as well as the retail area. Possibly slightly clinical feeling, it nevertheless would instil trust into the customer and be a calm environment.

Going minimalist doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with design – this New York bottle shop, Vintry Fine Wines, is truly extraordinary, and the white & wood decor never detracts from the product.

Ok, that is a little bit overwhelming, but it does have a massive cool factor (it is a Parisian Homewares shop, after all). Muriel Grateau specializes in tableware; anything that isn’t product in the shop has been ruthlessly removed. And don’t you notice the product?!

A renowned French brand, as iconic for its culture of ‘white’ as for its clothes, this is the Martin Maison Margiela boutique in Tokyo. We like the white and glass showcase – similar can be found here.
While minimalism and retail sounds like a paradox, it can work. We will follow up this post next week with some specific ideas that you could adopt if you were feeling adventurous enough to give it a go!

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