LONDON — Bottletop, the London-based accessories label, is opening the doors to its first permanent retail location at 84 Regent Street, with interiors that are futuristic and unique.
The brand’s founder Cameron Saul and codirector Oliver Wayman have put their own spin on the concept of the retail experience, using technology, bespoke scent and music to tell the story of the brand, which has been built around creative collaboration and sustainability.
Saul and Wayman have partnered with the robotics company Kuka, AI Build, which develops artificial intelligence to aid manufacturing and the Shoreditch-based architectural firm Krause Architects, to create what will be the first store that has been 3-D printed by robots using upcycled plastic.
“It was about a synthesis between the handmade, the manmade and the most high-tech, and showing that those elements can all be harnessed sustainably and work in harmony. Initially, we were nervous to go full tilt into the technology unless we could find a way to do it that was pioneering from a sustainability perspective,” said Saul. He added that by developing the new technology, Bottletop is simultaneously creating new ways to innovate the design process.
Building the store involved turning recycled plastic bottles into filaments, which are then attached to the robots. The robots 3-D print the material layer by layer into wall panels. “We’re following a mind-set called generative design, which looks at the evolution of nature,” added Wayman.
The robots will be kept in the store during its opening weeks so that customers can experience the 3-D printing process and learn more about the brand: “We are using that technology from a storytelling perspective, to help us articulate our values. The whole objective of us opening the doors whilst we’re creating and building the space is to be able to bring customers into that evolving environment and ecosystem and educate them.”
Both Wayman and Saul said they view the concept of the store as continuously evolving. Using 3-D printing techniques and recycled plastic to create the interiors also gives them the ability to re-create the space in a sustainable manner: “We’re realistic enough to know the customers want to see change and fluidity. We have a particular look now, but going forward we can reprint, use different colors, melt the plastic back and then reuse it,” said Wayman.
In addition to the store interiors, Wayman and Saul went a step further on the in-store experience, and have created a bespoke scent and special music playlists that fit their environment. The overarching goal was to build a multi-sensory, immersive experience that will allow consumers to step into the world of the brand and “dive in as deep as they like,” Saul said.
The scent, created in partnership with perfumer Timothy Han, has a clean and fresh feel to it that offsets the metallic elements dominating the store interiors, while the playlist was created in collaboration with Mario Caldato, a producer known for his work with the likes of Björk and the Beastie Boys.
“We wanted to offer something different from online and the two most overlooked senses are sound and smell. Scent is linked to memory more than any of the other senses, so if you can come up with something which is very distinctive and creates a familiarity when you enter the space, then it evolves your whole understanding of the brand,” said Wayman, adding that he wanted to ensure that every element in the store enhances the customer’s senses in a meaningful way, beyond gimmick.
“We’ve looked at a lot of different technology that could supposedly heighten the customer experience; it would often play with people’s senses but not in an enhancing way, just flashing lights. We only worked with things we thought would fit well within the brand’s aesthetic. The core factors we keep coming back to are sustainability, design and zero waste,” he said.
The store will also act as a launchpad for new product categories, collaborations and talks, mirroring the approach taken by the brand during the pop-up shops they launched in London and New York, where they regularly hosted events to celebrate recent collaborations with the likes of Narciso Rodriguez and artist Idris Khan, a partnership with the Armory contemporary art fair and fashion week launches.
“I think having a space where people can meet and have a focal point for our customer is really important. It’s a home and a place for that narrative to unfold,” added Saul.