Storefronts offer endless narratives to be told to users passing by. The type of branding, logo, interior design and architecture blend to form a scene in the eye of an observer. Each store owner is from a different background and has a specific message to deliver. Some storefronts use flashy colors to grasp attention, and some use minimal designs that are more silent in terms of visual noise. Yet, the common factor is that storefronts act as story tellers of what is happening inside, and in most cases, act as magnets for passers-by.
A variety of factors come together to form the narrative of a storefront. Some factors are predefined, like the history of area, the vibe of the neighborhood and the narrative of the building itself. Other factors are left for the storefront developer to define. A smart storefront design takes into consideration these predefined factors, and uses them to tell its own story, connecting what ‘already is’ to what ‘will be’.
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague, “the City of a Hundred Spires”, is the capital of the Czech Republic. It is noticed that Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architectural styles dominate the city when touring the Old Town’s narrow streets. As you walk down the public stairs from Prague’s Castle towards the Old Town, this café is one of the first places to grasp your attention; not only due to its distinctive color and design, but also because of the smell of its food. Prague is known for its dessert, Trdelník. It is made from rolled dough that is wrapped around a stick, then grilled and topped with a sugar and walnut mix. The colors here are harmonious and complement the sugary smell of Trdelnik and/or a cup of coffee to-go. Opening the kitchen to the street heightens the curiosity of tourists and passers-by; making them pause to have a look. In this case, the openness of the interior space to the street, through visual continuity, creates a beautiful connection between the employees and street users.
Amsterdam is a city rich in cultural diversity. The city evolved through different successive historical eras, which reflected clearly on its architecture and façade designs. Some facades in the city center of Amsterdam reflect eras of Gothic and Baroque architecture, and others resemble the Dutch Renaissance period in its pitched roofs and stepped gable façades. Storefronts however, are known for the contemporary juxtaposition within the historical context of the city. This could be seen in ‘Golden Age Cheese’, and ‘Old Amsterdam Cheese Store’; two specialty stores selling original aged gouda cheese made from cow’s milk – a product that is now known as ‘Old Amsterdam Cheese’. The contrast between black steel and minimal interior is what caught my attention at first. All elements such as window walls, wooden interiors, steel frames, distinctive font and branding blend to introduce this shop to the market. I saw this as a successful effort of rebranding old local products through contemporary means and design, to preserve the city’s heritage and tell a unique story.
Cologne- Koeln – is a thriving city located in western Germany and known for its cultural diversity. Cologne was affected by World War II and was completely reconstructed afterwards. Reconstruction of the city was dominated by the modernist, 1950’s architectural style, in addition to historical buildings’ reconstruction that date back to Gothic and Renaissance periods. These interventions are often spotted throughout the city in the form of elements or additions, such as the French Casement Windows seen in this storefront. The visual experience of white French casement windows and bright stone, grounded by the red vegetable display and accessories, is so soothing and attracts passers-by to the winery.