Home from home
Sophisticated Canadian home furnishings retailer EQ3 reached another brand milestone as 2019 drew to a close with the opening of their first New York City store in Manhattan’s design-friendly Chelsea neighbourhood. Unlike most retailers that renovate existing premises when setting up shop, EQ3 has purposefully built its own brand new store.
Building its own ‘store from scratch’ is a confident move for this young brand and befits the name and concept the business was founded upon – ‘Emotional Quotient in the Third Dimension’. The result makes a bold statement of intent for the future in a retail market and city location where this kind of heavy investment doesn’t come cheap.
… presents product collections with simple, natural styling and tells a clear and unambiguous story.
Standing prominently and contrasting sharply with its surroundings, the exterior architecture of the three-storey showroom is an imposing grid structure of white steel and glass that commands attention. Its exterior may be showy, but inside it ventures into much safer territory with its uber minimalist interior design. Here, EQ3 offers 11,800 square foot of aspirational products in curated collections, presented with precise coordination and high standards in a versatile retail space. The open floorplans and exterior glass walls make the interior bright, light and naturally exposed to shoppers outside. The ‘neutral to nude’ interior colour palette, cool blonde wood and oak and clean white walls delivers an ultra-chic look.
The in-store journey presents product collections with simple, natural styling and tells a clear and unambiguous story that’s reflective of both the designer and how the customer can visualise products in their own homes. Furniture, textiles and items of home decor are intermingled within the space while a central ‘Design Centre’ offers product customisation and made-to-order options.
Make no mistake: this is an approach that’s aimed squarely at attracting the mid-market.
There’s a dedicated Marimekko brand collaboration area too, where the brand’s signature bold Scandinavian graphic design is represented upon a range of textiles, ceramics and home decor items. The calm ‘Zen like’ atmosphere of the design adding clarity to the brands ‘look and feel’. Overall, the ambience presents a shopping experience with comfort, style and simplicity at its core. The store space is also dog friendly – increasingly a must for retailers keen to attract city dwellers.
Make no mistake: this is an approach that’s aimed squarely at attracting the mid-market. At the same time it signals a move away from any ‘IKEA’ comparisons – small vignettes and product styling creating an easy and inspirational shopping experience for shoppers. Though understated, it could be argued that by being so commercial there has been a potentially costly trade-off. It’s design style, minimalist décor and arrangements lacks a distinctive identity. Devoid of the all-important branded statements, it is missing that ‘edge’ and a little ‘wow’ needed to set them apart from competitors, and the wider contemporary homewares market.
The launch of this latest EQ3 store certainly captures the ‘new mood’ of modern living and what we expect from the sector today. Its pared back, signature brand style, however, is an approach that would be easy for others to imitate, and the company will have to be mindful that others do not seek to copy it. Having opened six new stores in 2019, it will be interesting to see how well these stores perform in 2020 and how the furniture landscape reacts to the new occupants on the block.
Click here to see more images of the new EQ3 store in NYC.
Read Karl McKeever’s thoughts on the changing face of retail in New York City during his visit to NRF Big Show 2020 here.