Retail isn’t dead, boring retail is dead. In order to thrive in the ever evolving retail landscape retailers alike are purposefully rewiring themselves to enable the experience economy.

Edgars is no exception to this. The biggest challenge for big retailers is that it has become a mass-experience tailored to no one. This is especially a challenge, in face of a time where customers can do anything anywhere and get personalised real-time experiences from other places both online and IRL.

This calls for a shift in retail practice and environment beyond just transaction towards setting the stage for meaningful and memorable experiences. Interestingly, department stores at their genesis were primarily about entertainment through shopping and socialising.


Braamfontein, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2017

About client:

Edgars is a South Africa’s clothing retailer with over 300 stores countrywide.

What we did:

User experience strategy, interior design concept, technical documentation, signage and branding Implementation co-ordination, project management, procurement, compliance.

Typically located at the heart of the high street, it was known as retail public square where customers could leisurely shop the latest trends and commodities. This idea of revisiting department store’s original purpose ‘a square as a social retail space’ became the starting point for the new design that is Edgars Fourways Mall. Beyond the brief and list of requirements, we designed for experience and incorporated some key pillars to engage shoppers and complement the hybrid nature of retail today.

A Public Square.

Purposeful planning of a central social space to anchor all the departments. Activating the in- between-space with key services and food partnerships. A subtle nod to the heritage of the department stores as the heart of the high street.


Pairing a coffee offering with retail. Utilising the (multi- sensory) experience to pull customers into the heart of the store. Allowing for replenishment and social activity.

‘Plug and Play’ Infrastructure.

A ‘comprehensive and economic ’ kit- of parts, that enables the brand to adapt and move the store layout around in order to create newness in store with minimal resources. This is a great departure from the traditional ‘heavily’ shop-fitted stores that takes a great amount of time and investment to change.

The brief.

What does future department stores look like? – the big question which underpinned the design brief for new Edgars Fourways store. Furthermore, the brand ambition was largely driven by the need to translate the brand as a modern day retailer that is relevant and memorable to South African consumers. The store design ran in parallel with the brand redesign, translating the new tone and business direction into the physical space. The scale of the store proved to be the most challenging constraint – designing ‘generic’ elements that can scale across 9000 sqm but still enable unique and memorable retail.

Store design and process.

The store design included a retake of the store environment, ‘non- transactional’ spaces as well as a new ‘retail display system’. The use of concrete, timber and black steel builds on the new brand CI creating a contemporary backdrop for Edgars product and services. The retail display system includes a series of frames and rails that are designed to work interchangeably but also adjust easily to fit constantly changing product assortment and moving departments. The store design is the result of over 9 months of team work, continual client interface, multiple mock shops and

The way forward

Retail is always adapting to market and customer needs so will the store environment change too. The innovation of the Fourways design is that it is designed for change, enabling Edgars to advocate South African culture through their product, embrace experimentation in store to deliver newness and build on an ever growing Edgars experience. We are currently working on Edgars V&A store a further evolution of the new Edgars Store design.

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