ABC Carpet & Home
 
The ABC Carpet & Home flagship store in New York City boasts every possible home aspiration and it's newest renovation, a beautiful kitchen accessories floor in the basement, is an amusement park for gastronomic devotees.
 
ABC Home
 
Much like the retailers six-floors of home décor aspiration, the surprisingly airy space highlights a diverse range of styles from across the world without feeling cluttered. From spectacular ceramics and coffee brewing equipment (curated by Bluebottle) to a rainbow of fine tea and a Hudson Bay seed library – the assortment is representative of reinvention, creativity, and individuality. 
 
 
Merchandising sets are defined using a cleaver configuration of freestanding fixtures to present each aesthetic, department, or designer. The schematic is both visually stimulating and easily shopable.  
 
We’ve clocked countless hours within ABC Carpet & Home over the years to demonstrate the benefits of scale, merchandising, and influence to market tour participants and we’re so pleased that the retail continues to set themselves apart from the competition with a bounty of kitchen additions that would never be found in the mall. 
 
Smart devices are huge business. Google's acquisition of Nest Labs for approximately $3.2 billion is a great example of future growth in this segment. 
 
Which is why we're highlighting the Range IO Kickstarter campaign by Supermechanical. This bluetooth-enabled thermometer can be used with any oven or grill, alongside an app for smartphones to makes food preparation easier and even detect if the oven is off, pre-heating, or cooling down. While it lacks the integration with home ovens to physically turn on/off each device, the notifications help to ensure that meals are cooked at the perfect temperature. Take a look. 
 
 
 
 
{photo: Merci.com by Enrico Conti}
 
Beloved upcycling concept store, Merci, as returned to Milan for the Salone Internazionale del Mobile tradeshow in partnership with Paola Navone. The designer's studio has been transformed into a popup full of Merci household furnishings and Aseop skincare  – alongside a collection of accessories designed by Paola Navone for Essent'ial.
 
The event ends on April 13th but you can view more photos from the event here
 
It Animals
Animal prints
 
Happy to have contributed to Ellen Himelfarb's piece in The Globe and Mail yesterday on trends. This section, on the plethora of animal iconography and prints, might be our favorite of four quotes:
 
They’ve become the decor equivalent of comfort food, says Shannon Kelly, founder of the trend research and marketing consultancy In Your Head. "While daring animal prints represent nature, fun, bold animal graphics celebrate a contemporary alternative rooted in nurture.
 
Read the full article here to learn our picks for the next "It" animal in design. 
 
 
Quarterly subscriptions
In a world continuous choice, the ultimate indulgence now is not having to choose.
 
The subscription model is being reborn thanks to online tastemakers and well-edited quarterly collections straight from the curated popup retail playbook. This new form of eCommerce outlines a defined theme without allowing the purchases to know the what products are contained within in their shipments until they open each mailing. By preserving the element of surprise, quarterlies are quickly immerging as a decisive and eccentric component of eCommerce.
 
Here are two examples, appropriately named Quarterly and Svbscription, to give you an idea of how lifestyle, storytelling, and limited-time-offerings aim to reshape they way we think of experiential shopping.
 
{Photo: Quarterly Co. by Coolhunting}
 
Quarterly Co. wants to connect shoppers with original content and hand-selected items from influential contributors. The offerings and themes range from items for your kitchen and table (by Amanda Hesser & Merrill Stubbs of Food 52) to design objects with problem solving combinations (by Josh Rubin & Evan Orensten of Coolhunting) and range from $25-$100, per mailing, every three months.
 
Per the website:
"Each product will reflect on the person who selected it, and help inform your understanding of them. So maybe you’ll get the same kind of notebook that your favorite author used to plot her recent bestseller. Or maybe it’s the tea a musician was drinking while he penned a famous track. Or perhaps it’s a secret family cold remedy an artist used while working on a masterpiece. The point is, every object—while uniquely brilliant in its function—will also have a story, and through that story take on new meaning."
 
Quarterly Co.
Our Quarterly - #BVH01
 
To best experience the ideals outlined by Quarterly, we subscribed to contributor Joel Johnson’s theme (above). Each of his mailings will be inspired by his late grandmother, Bessie Vivian Hildebrand, and we're incredibly touched by how the first shipment (called #BVH01 to correspond with a twitter hashtag) gave new meaning to common kitchen products with a simple series of memories.

Svbscription is a luxury quarterly service targeting a male clientele. Every three months, members receive a new parcel with a unique them of curated products and experiences that intersect design, culture, technology, apparel, and entertainment. The cost of one box is $330 and a yearly subscription is $1150.
 
The latest theme explores and reconstructs the notion of the collection for the modern man with enough vagueness to leave the potential subscriber baffled. Below are photos and a description from "V4 – The Collector’s Edition".
 
Svb­scrip­tion V4
{Photo: Svb­scrip­tion}
 
Either casu­ally, for­mally or uncon­sciously, col­lect­ing is an act we per­form through­out our lives, cul­mi­nat­ing in the own­er­ship of prized objects, rare finds, pre­cious dis­cov­er­ies and vast archives of every­thing from mag­a­zines to memories. Yet in a world where we suf­fer from the the [SIC] tyranny of abun­dance, over­whelmed by choice and selec­tion, those things we do select to fill our book­shelves and minds say more about our­selves than they would have said for our fathers and grand­fa­thers. No gen­tle­men — in this mod­ern age it is no longer enough to be sim­ply gifted with a sense of good taste. With­out the right train­ing and tools, any man can fall from the heights of refined col­lec­tor to the annals of ver­bosity, over-consumption and dare we say, hoarding."
 

While most shoppers might be turned off by this type of merchandising, it's obvious from the previous versions — all of which are sold out — that the concept connects with an affluent customer willing to spend $330 on a lifestyle sans actual product photos. 

 
The Parker
Adler Parker Palm Springs
 
Designer Jonathan Adler, known for his groovy home-wear collection and interior design work at The Parker in Palm Springs, has inked a licensing deal with Li & Fung's LF USA to expand its fashion accessories business into handbags, totes, hats, small leather goods, belts and scarves, according to Women's Wear Daily.

Expect to see Adler's quirky patterns, smart craftsmanship, and cheeky color palettes storm the fashion world with a 300-piece fall collection priced from $48 to $450.The robust range will launch during August Market Week and will be sold in company-owned stores, online, and at retailers for Spring 2013.

“It’s amazing to go from being a production potter to expanding into a zillion different categories,” Adler told WWD. He also revealed that jewelry will be available from Fall 2013.

We agree. Alder is to home what Kate Spade was to handbags. And the opportunites are endless.
 
{source: WWD}
My Drap
My drap
 
How long do you think it will take for this product in Paris, France to show up at Anthropologie stores in the USA (we purchased My drap at Merci on September 5, 2011)?
 
It took nine months before the very same tear off napkin appeared in stores with new private-label packaging.
 
 
Like in many consumer channels, the turn-around for merchants is increasingly becoming quicker in order to provide customers with new products. It's not uncommon for buyers and designers to shop the competition for inspiration.
 
So who are the tastemakers these days? Is it the buyer, the merchant, the consumer, or the manufacturer?
 
In this instance, we think the product is the star. We love the colors and texture of these 100% cotton reusable and washable napkins. 
 
 
Totokaelo retail store
totokaelo retail
 
East meets West at Totokaelo's latest Seattle boutique in Capitol Hill.
 
The cult concept, created by Jill Wenger, captures a casual, calculated refinement with exceptional merchandising. The architectural space is the perfect canvas for an expanded product assortment, which now includes the sister concept ‘Totokaelo Art—Object’.
 
Totokaelo (pronounced TOH-toh-KYE-oh) peeked the interest of many LA boutique owners during out market visit last year and we're delighted that this new move is not only an expansion but an evolution.
 
smallest store in the world

IKEA smallest store

Here's a new spin on mini-momentum:  “The smallest store in the world” by Swedish housewares retailer IKEA.

Blending smart commerce, augmented reality (AR), and digital merchandising within a 300 X 250 (10.5cm x 8.8cm) web banner, the eCommerce store makes the most of space while representing the entire IKEA assortment. The video below explains the concept.

 

“With city populations on the rise, living spaces have become increasingly limited,” the company explains. “IKEA believes that no matter how cramped your space, there’s always a solution.” To demonstrate that belief, the company — generally known for its oversized retail spaces — has packed a full store with 2,800 products into the space of a small web banner. Shoppers who visit the diminutive store by hovering their mouse over it can then browse by department, choose what they want, and buy it online. “We targeted people looking for studio flats as well as one/two bedroom apartments by placing our tiny stores in the real estate section of community websites,” IKEA notes.

While this is certainly not the most practical way of browsing, we love how the messaging plays on brand-centric ideals which are meant to shift consumers perceptions away from from a mega-store mentality to an omni-channel experience.

Unlike a virtual retail installations, the IKEA "smallest store in the world" symbolizes thoughtful consumption while decreasing workload and span of design within the online and offline worlds.

{source: Springwise}

 
 
Agrarian
French laundry garden
 
Homegrown and homemade are two lifestyle trends spurring product ranges.
 
Williams-Sonoma is the latest retailer to launch a new product collection “for customers who want to go beyond cooking by cultivating a healthy awareness of where their food comes from.”
Agrarian
{source: Williams-Sonoma}
 
Rooted in Global Locality & Less-ism (see our 2012 forecast here), the Agrarian line includes upscale gardening and cultivating supplies such as heirloom seeds, gardening tools by Sophie Conran from London, cedar raised beds from Farmer D, chicken coops, culinary herb seed bombs, and home canning & preserving supplies from Europe. For the customer who does not have time to visit the local nursery, live fruit trees, organic herbs, and heirloom vegetables can be delivered to customers’ front doors, ready for planting. Tapping into the DIY trend, cheese-making, kombucha, and sprout kits are available as an alternative to the new range of similar products at Whole Foods.

“Agrarian is yet another way for Williams-Sonoma to bring people together around food,” said Richard Harvey, President, Williams-Sonoma brand. “We’re excited to provide our customers with a collection of products that will enrich their culinary experiences, all while helping them to lead a healthier lifestyle.”

As part of the launch, all Williams-Sonoma stores will offer an “Intro to Edible Gardening: Seed Starting” class on Earth Day, April 22, with the $10.00 class fee donated to the Edible Schoolyard Project.
 
We like the retailers cause marketing tie-in and applaud efforts to raise awareness about healthy foods but question whether customers need to forgo local hardware store and nurseries for glossier versions of well-made products.
 
For example, while we feel that canning is a growing trend, we're concerned that the Weck jars within the range of canning supplies are not recommended by the USDA for water-bath canning. According to Canning Across America, an online resource committed to the revival of the lost art of “putting up” food, these jars are tricky to get a good seal with unless you are an experienced canner.
 
What's your take on Agrarian? Tweet us your feedback or comment on our Facebook page.
 
 
{editors note: In Your Head founder, Shannon Kelly, is a member of Canning Across America.}