Images: the main Tate Modern store by Uxus
The exhibition “PICASSO 1932 – LOVE, FAME, TRAGEDY” at the Tate Modern this year brought together more than 100 paintings, sculptures and drawings from one extremely productive year in the artist’s life. And while the exhibition wowed visitors, the accompanying shop worked to be a dynamic and engaging space that would leave its own positive memory.
“We are getting the customer who is visiting the exhibition and wanting them to have a good memory of it,” said Jenny Jackson, VM Manager at Tate Enterprises, in a presentation at Retail Design Expo 2018. “While the marketing image of the exhibition was bold and bright colours, we chose more spring and summer pastel colours.”
Jackson talked about the dual challenges created by the location of the shop in a small, awkward space that is also a high traffic area. “A central challenge in this store was a balcony area that housed much of the product,” explained Jackson. “It was lit by natural light and after the light of the day had fallen, it felt quite dark there.”
Jackson’s team set about blocking out the balcony area, which generated more linear footage for the store and a better space to experience the product. On top of the reorganisation of the floor space, clever visual merchandising made the store feel more substantial and give the product – be it books, postcards, textiles or jewellery – space to breathe.
Colour is central to how the shop worked. The palette of the store design utilised the look and feel of the Picasso exhibition itself: fresh, vibrant shades of lilac, yellow and green on walls, fixtures and fittings. The key design feature of an ‘optical illusion wall’ in red provided a dramatic background for hanging merchandise. The project reassessed light and dark in terms of the fixture for books. “The book offer had a dark backing that felt heavy,” commented Jackson. “Adding in light boxes brought the display to life.”
Within this retail setting, consumers wanted something to remind them of their visit, requiring a range of price points that appeal to each part of the audience. Another key aspect of making this retail space work effectively was putting the tills all in one place. The bank of tills incorporated a queue line system with fixtures in it for a commercial opportunity.
This store needed to be on-brand in relation to the overarching Tate Modern brand and the bold, abstract artworks of the Picasso exhibition it was launched for – and all within a tight budget.