Fifth Avenue is getting a dose of the art de vivre of Provençe, thanks to L’Occitane’s reimagined Flatiron store in NYC, which has become a digitally-powered, experiential flagship. The France-based beauty brand, founded by Olivier Baussan more than 40 years ago to capture the spirit of Provence, commissioned creative agency School House, which combined abstract art, design, digital, and cultural features to transform the digs into a Provençale paradise. “From entry to exit, the multi-sensory boutique works collectively to create both an immersive and individualized shopping experience,” said Paul Blackburn, L’Occitane’s associate vice president of design & construction, North America.
The Daily got a personal tour from School House’s founder, Chris Skinner, who guided us from the golden shuttered exterior facade to the open air market and 400 square-foot trellis. “We really brought the idea of the alchemy of Provençe—so it’s less about huge images of lavender fields, and more about a sensorial, emotional connection to what the region is about,” he said.
The store is broken up into increments of time—the front portion for those just stopping in, the middle for customers with a few more minutes to spare, and the very back for anyone who wants a totally immersive experience. “The front is inspired by an exterior provencal town square, with a ‘central fountain’ of products. But it’s not literal—we didn’t want it to feel like Beauty and the Beast—it’s all abstracted and modernized,” Skinner explained. “We dropped the windows so you can see what’s happening inside. And all the digital components support human connection, including the gift creator to customize your own gift and the engraving station in the back.”
If the front feels like the exterior of a building, and the center reflects an interior, then the very back is like L’Occitane’s private garden. The walls have a stucco-like texture, and under the tables with sinks, where guests can test out any product they like at the Smart Beauty Fitting Room, there are pebbles for a terrace-like ambiance. Another highlight of the space? Two miles of ribbon that hang from the ceiling at the entry, a rotating display that will focus on a L’Occitane ingredient.
Check out the new Flatiron flagship for yourself at 170 Fifth Avenue.