There was a time when textile giants – almost since they were born – reproduced their corporate aesthetics wherever they were installed, whether it was Milan, Barcelona, Paris or Dubai, without taking too much into account what differentiates each context. But the dynamics have changed in recent years. Or, at least, it is what is perceived when entering the flagship store that H&M opened in 2005 in Palma de Mallorca, in a palace of the fifteenth century in the Plaza Juan Carlos I, and that last November reopened with another mentality.
The idea of the new premises of the Swedish firm is that, anywhere in the store, interior design refers to that version of the Balearic Mediterranean emptied of tourists and noise. Starting with the symbols of architecture. Among other winks, the Mallorcan patio represented in the lobby does not fail: tiles in earth tones, pillars covered with a stucco similar to that of the facades of Palma, and sisal planters with several of the 120 natural plants that today are distributed by the two premises floors.
“From design to opening, the project has taken us more than a year and a half,” explains the head of interior design at H&M in Spain and Portugal, Santiago Gomez. The store was closed to the public for almost four months. In part, because the Swedish company has collaborated with another local to recover, piece by piece, the medieval stone arches of the second floor, and a room with walls and wooden coffered ceilings. On the outside, the novecentista windows and their green shutters have also been restored. “They are a very characteristic element of that street,” says Gomez by email. “We wanted to be fully integrated into the environment and for that you have to be consistent with your buildings.”
It is curious that so much effort has been put into remodeling a physical store, when the world seems accustomed already to buy clothes from its smartphone. “For us, the ecommerce it does not compete with our points of sale, or we do not see it as a rivalry in itself, because stores allow us to connect with the customer in a way that the Internet does not, “argues the head of interior design.
In this case, the quantity of products has been reduced so that one does not get lost or end up being stressed. Even more: you can have an organic coffee in the small kiosk – with its striped awning included – on the first floor, or rest on the lounge area of the second, leafing through fashion magazines from rustic chairs edited in Girona, in eucalyptus grid and wood. And, if the testers are reached, the firm recommends taking it easy on the seat In between by designer Sami Kallio, who is an example of classic Scandinavian carpentry.
“The only stores that share similarity in furniture are those of Karlaplan and Uppsala in Sweden,” Gómez reports. “The light approach is also similar.” The lamp that is repeated on the wooden shelves, or on top of the marble cashiers, is signed by the Murray Barcelona design studio, with a pink body of cement striated by hand and a foot of teak wood finished in oil. It is the S model of its Portland collection. But why the small ones? “We had to respect the protected architectural elements of the building, which can be damaged if we use direct lights. In addition, greater lighting does not translate into a better shopping experience: it only reduces energy efficiency.”
It is a criterion that extends in the company globally. “Installing LED lights in the store means an energy saving of 15%, and then contributes to the goal that we have set ourselves at H&M: we are working to be climate positive by 2040.”
The list of novelties of Palma, as a final point, incorporates the works of illustrator Brianda Fitz-James Stuart – from her book My re-creative universe– and local artist Carlos Asencio. This is the first of the exhibitions that, every three months, the Mallorcan store wants to propose to the public. Like the art galleries with which the neighborhood shares.
Different formulas, same concept
Adapt to the context of the place where they are located and not be imposed. It is the strategy that H&M has been developing in several of its headquarters in Europe. He has done it, first, in the Mitte neighborhood store in Berlin, where he offers the possibility of renting pieces of his most iconic collections, acquiring products from local firms, or attending fashion talks and yoga classes.
Something similar raises the renewed flagship from Stockholm: there, customers can repair their garments of the Swedish giant, rent sustainable uniforms and even wedding dresses, order coffee on the way to the office or, before an unexpected appointment, make up and get a manicure at the Beauty bar which has inside, from Monday to Friday, from 7:30 in the morning.