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L’Occitane en Provence Unveils First-of-its-Kind Digital Experience Flagship [Photos]

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Upscale French beauty company L’Occitane en Provence, known for its skincare, body care, and fragrances, chose Canada as its launch point for its first-ever immersive digital experience multi-sensory store. The renovated 1,605 square foot retail space at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre is unlike any for the brand, with some components to be introduced to other L’Occitane store locations globally. 

L’Occitane is taking great pride in the beautiful new space, which occupies a bright, corner location in a busy part of Yorkdale that is only steps away from the mall’s Tesla Motors, and Apple Store locations. With a soaring 22-foot high facade, the updated L’Occitane flagship is already catching the attention of passers-by. 

“Visiting this store will be an experience like no other. Upon entering, guests will feel a sense of wonderment – they will be transported to the lavender fields of Provence, learn about L’Occitane’s expertise in the art of extraction, and visit the land of Corsica, home of the powerful Immortelle flower,” said Paul Blackburn, North American Vice President of Concept Design, Construction & Merchandising.

(CLICK FOR INTERACTIVE GOOGLE MAP)
(THE BEAUTIFUL NEW SPACE FEATURES FLOWERS HANGING FROM THE CEILINGS, AND YELLOW ARCHES REFERENCING THE ARCHITECTURE OF PROVENCE IN FRANCE)

“Behind the striking external glass façade, a curved video wall immediately attracts the attention of passersby. Below this eye-catching feature is an immersive digital experience inside a pair of suspended capsules.  Within each capsule, a true story unfolds before your eyes combining imagery, scent, light and sound for a truly sensorial experience,” he said. 

The six-foot high by 18-foot wide curved video wall he mentioned was installed this week, and is one of the unique features at the Yorkdale store. Visible from outside the store is a dramatic floor-to-ceiling column displaying hundreds of tubes of hand cream, surrounded with communal seating. L’Occitane commissioned renowned New York City-based brand creative and experience agency School House to design the new store — School House has been involved in creating several L’Occitane boutique locations. 

“Journeying through Provence is a visceral experience that changes something within you. In 1976, Oliver Baussan experienced a connection to Provence’s land and culture, which he distilled from lavender and rosemary into essential oils. In the same way, we approached Yorkdale as an artistic expression of Provence, served through tactile and digital brand experiences that spark a sense of wonderment,” says Christopher Skinner, founder and principal of School House.”

(INSIDE THE NEW STORE, WHICH INCLUDES THE ‘SUN’ IN THE CENTRE, SEVERAL SINKS FOR CUSTOMERS INCLUDING THE ONE SEEN THE FOREGROUND, AS WELL AS THE COLUMN TO THE RIGHT WHICH CONTAINS HUNDREDS OF TUBES OF SKIN CREAM)
(RENDERING SHOWING THE FACADE VIDEO SCREEN, NOT VISIBLE IN OUR TOP PHOTO)
(GIFT WRAPPING AREA, AND MEN’S ITEMS)

The store’s architecture is inspired by the Provence region of France, with a contemporary twist. Arched ceilings reference the historic region with yellow glass archways, creating a series of ‘rooms’ that is really just one open retail space. Inside, the Provence references continue with suspended “sensorial capsule pods” with visuals that can be modified with hand movements. The unique design is unlike any other in the brand’s portfolio and will set a new standard for L’Occitane’s in-store experience in North America.  

The inspiration for the store’s interior are the elements of earth, fire, air and water. These are represented as follows: 

-‘Earth’ is represented with a flooring of natural stone and a botanical ceiling installation of a ‘land reversed,’ 
-‘Water’ is referenced with automated rain shower sinks, encouraging test-and-play with products beneath showers from hanging illuminated arched domes,
-‘Fire’ is channeled through a radiating sun installation set within the ceiling plane above, and
-‘Air’ is cultivated into fragrance clouds, creating a unique testing experience for fragrances.  

The interactive nature of the retail space includes a ‘skincare bistro’ — customers are encouraged to try different products and experiment. Last week, the store was busy with customers trying — and buying. 

(LOOKING INSIDE OF ONE OF THE PODS — THE IMAGE CAN BE MODIFIED WITH THE SWIPE OF A HAND. MUCH OF THE STORE IS EXPERIENTIAL, AND ENCOURAGES EXPLORATION)
(TABLE, TOWELS AND PRODUCTS TO TRY)
(L’OCCITANE PARTNERED WITH STERICYCLE — CUSTOMERS CAN BRING IN EMPTY BOTTLES TO RECEIVE A DISCOUNT ON NEW PURCHASES)

L’Occitane and School House considered the environment when it built the new store — lighting is 100% LED and for the first time in North America, the store offers an in-store bottle recycling program in partnership with TerraCycle

As well, the store’s stone flooring and countertops are made of recycled natural stone aggregates and contain pre-consumer recycled content. The yellow arches described above are made from specially-formulated co-polyester resin, incorporating 40% pre-consumer recycled content, compatible with one of the largest post-consumer recycle streams, according to L’Occitane.  

The Yorkdale flagship is the first of several similar experiential stores for the brand. This month, L’Occitaine will unveil two more of these flagships — one at 86 Champs Elysées in Paris, as well as a 6,450 square foot flagship on London’s Regent Street (largest L’Occitane in the world). The Paris store partnered with French pastry chef Pierre Hermé, merging beauty with food. 

L’Occitane en Provence was founded in France’s Provence region in 1976 by Olivier Baussan, and it now boasts stores around the world, with over 40 locations in Canada. 

See below for more photos. 

Article Author

Craig Patterson
Located in Toronto, Craig is the Editor-in-Chief of Retail Insider and President/CEO of Retail Insider Media Ltd. He is also a retail analyst and consultant, Director of Applied Research at the University of Alberta School of Retailing in Edmonton, and consultant to the Retail Council of Canada. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for over 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees.

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