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rischegroup Relooks: 70’s Retail Designs

The 1970s is sometimes disparagingly referred to as the decade that style forgot. First there was the end of flower power, then came glam rock, disco and punk – each distinctive music genres lending some part of itself to the style of the decade and to what came afterwards. Those trends also impacted heavily on retail and we take a look at just what that meant for shopping style.

Biba

The lush, sinuous, art nouveau-inspired signage of Biba, was a hangover from the mid-60s when the hippy era was in full swing. First opened in 1964 by Barbara Hulanicki, by 1974 Biba had moved into new premises on Kensington High Street and was attracting a million customers a week. The department store was an eclectic mix of interior design styles which were themed to the merchandise on sale there. The art deco interiors of the original building were incorporated into the merchandising with much use made of mirrored counters, authentic light fittings and dark wood. Biba exemplified everything that was new, young and fashionable, with the latest lifestyle must haves set in an interior which made shopping completely unique and exciting.

Woolworth’s

The first Woolworth’s store in the UK was opened on 5 November 1909 in Liverpool. By the time the company folded here in 2008, there were over 800 stores nationally and it had become a beloved retail institute. This American import seemed to epitomise all that we Brits loved about shopping – ‘Woolies’ evokes memories of buying a first LP, coveting toys at Christmas time or getting a treat from the pic ‘n’ mix. Woolworths was brightly lit with fluorescent tube lighting, its floor were commercial strength vinyl tiles and its layout was simple and effective. It wasn’t an elegant store but you could get just about anything there, and perhaps that’s what we Brits loved about it – it served a purpose and it did it extremely well.

Tesco

The largest supermarket chain in the UK, Tesco was founded in 1919 and has grown to become the biggest supermarket chain in the UK, with group sales peaking in 2008 at £51.8 billion. In the 1970s it revolutionised the shopping experience, offering consumers an ever-expanding range of merchandise which soon went beyond everyday groceries. Fundamentally, the functional design of the interior of the stores remains largely the same, with a flow that entices us in with fresh flowers and fruit. However, changes at the subliminal design level such as marble floors, improved lighting and wider aisles have improved how we feel about shopping since the 1970s and have encouraged a higher spend per visit.

They say that what goes around comes around and this is true for retail style.

We’re now witnessing a renewed sense of individualism in store interiors which was last seen in the 1970s, as shops vie for our attention and focus more on how their ambiance can affect sales. If you need advice on attracting customers through interior design, rischegroup can help you with your next big retail project. For more information, get in touch with the rischegroup team.

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