While the last two years have seen a marked shift from in-person retail to online shopping experiences, the team at Spiggy have been focusing on the unique benefits of face to face browsing and purchasing. Offering dynamic pieces from the most forward-thinking, boundary-pushing and exciting modern designers, the newly opened Spiggy showroom highlights the best of the best. To realise this opportunity, Colin Wright of Spiggy worked closely with design studio, Alcorn Middleton to curate the perfect space. The result? A showroom that allows potential customers to experience the function, feel, and materiality of each product, going beyond the traditional aesthetic sales point. Read ahead to hear first-hand from the minds behind the Brisbane-based showroom.
How did your experiences and research inform the ideas behind the showroom?
From both research and personal experience, we felt that hardware displays have always been lacking something: they appeared lifeless; either over- or under-whelming; with too many similar options on offer and difficulty in seeing and feeling them. Even as architects, we have always had a limited knowledge of the offerings out there, and how they are displayed never really garnered our attention. Given all of these observations, we deduced that purchasers of door hardware are largely basing their decisions around aesthetics. We considered that with aesthetics being promoted by marketing, materiality and stories, customers were missing out on experiencing how the hardware might feel or operate.
Above image taken from Alcorn Middleton instagram page @alcornmiddleton
After considering your experience and conducting this research, what was the inspiration for the Spiggy showroom?
Our approach with the Spiggy showroom was to hero the act of engaging with and handling of the products. We wanted to question how customers interact with and decide on other items of their home – from a new bed mattress or a new couch, to smaller scale items like dishcloths. They touch, they feel, and they experience them, if only in a fleeting moment, not hidden behind some plastic wrap and packaging. So, we decided this: why not offer customers the same opportunity when selecting door hardware? The motion, the textural qualities, the weight, the quality and all the forgotten components that make up a door - hinges, locks, door stops, striking plates, tracks – offer far more depth than just how a handle looks. There is so much technology on offer that is continuously being refined, yet Australia seemed so far behind the mark - until now!
How does the face-to-face retail experience contribute to the Spiggy brand and the process of selecting and purchasing architectural hardware?
These are items we use every day, and if you’re going to the level of purchasing from any of SPIGGY’s various brand offerings, you’d want to know how it felt and functioned – no different to purchasing a tap and judging how it may feel to turn on. We feel the same principles apply – hardware is an investment and you should be afforded the ability to not only touch, see and feel these objects, but also hear from someone who specialises in this unique vocation.
How does the Brisbane showroom’s context and surrounds influence the experience of the Spiggy showroom and architectural hardware?
Being that Spiggy is co-located inside of an existing showroom (CULT Design), we were tasked with the challenge of giving Spiggy its own ‘moment’, in an existing space that Brisbanites would be very familiar with. We wanted to set Spiggy apart from the connotations of what came before it, all the while trying to be sympathetic to the landlord (Cult). In addition, we wanted within the parameters of what was permissible from a contractual and leasing aspect. We investigated the application of various materials and finally settled on a colour that could translate from joinery to wall and ceiling, in a scheme that champions and showcases the brands that Spiggy has handpicked to represent. We wanted the fitout to be no more than a canvas, focussing the eye (and attention) on the products and their unique characteristics. By developing the area with a singular colour and swooping curves, the brands that are showcased individually recede, revealing the unifying features that make Spiggy, Spiggy.
Was there a particular strategy on how the products have been curated and displayed around the showroom?
We wanted to make door hardware and lighting fashionable, to make it a destination on its own, and avoid getting lost in the unpleasantries of a hardware store. We are always investigating ways of creating a sense a degree of theatre and drama in our work. We want to build in mystery, intrigue and bring projects alive by enlivening people’s curiosity to engage with it. Whether it is a new house, a renovation, a building, or an interior fit out, the principle of ‘hide and reveal’ has become such a crucial element we’ve embraced in every project. The same can be said for the Spiggy Showroom. We were cautious to not overwhelm customers with endless options on the rear wall. This design curates an environment where each door you see is representative of a brand. Not only does this engage the customers in embracing with the functionality and feel of that brand, but further reveals different styles and finishes that that specific brand offers. In the foreground, a tiered island creates a perfect focal point to display the more jewel-like components and handles. It has been designed to cater for 3 functions; a shopfront display; a workstation; and to further act as seating during events, functions, and customer service.
Talk us through the experience from entrance to check-out point. How has materiality influenced the overall showroom design, as well as successfully showcasing the hardware products?
The combination of subtle curves and an encapsulating ‘porcelain blush’ colour were coupled together. We felt the pairing was seductive while providing a neutral backdrop to highlight the pieces in their own right. From the moment we met Colin, he’s likened these hardware brands to jewels, and we really wanted the showroom to represent this, in a sensible and compact layout. Retail and office design have advanced so quickly in the last two decades, and this idea of a reception area cordoned off to the public has diminished dramatically. Thus, the act of walking behind the front tiered island isn’t an area that should feel ‘off limits’ to customers. Instead, the rear wall should entice users, as this is where you can physically open, close and slide doors to interact and experience the functionality of the products that Spiggy offers.
What has been the highlight throughout this whole creative process?
The highlight of this whole process is the enthusiasm and trusting nature Colin has bestowed on us from the word go. A client like this is always a blessing, in any project. When the vision can be shared and nurtured by both client and designer, great things ensue. But in addition to Colin’s enthusiasm and trust, his knowledge of hardware has in turn stepped up our game in working out the finer details on how to achieve this vision. For every idea we had, Colin either knew of or found a piece that we could implement into the design. And that’s what we love about the work we do: we’re happy to learn from the masters of their own craft and collaborate so that the best ideas can be made into a reality.
Visit the new Spiggy showroom today located within CULT Design at 927 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley.