International design studio FutureBrand UXUS has created the new Shimano Experience Centre in Valkenburg, Netherlands; a hub for fishing, cycling and rowing enthusiasts. This unique space combines the excitement of open-air sports with the latest virtual technology to create an immersive outdoor-indoor experience.
Experts in experiential retail design, FutureBrand UXUS developed this to serve as an educational community space for outdoor enthusiasts. The Shimano Experience Centre has three key functions; a social hub, a learning space and an experiential product showroom. As consumer habits change and customers lean towards purchasing experiences rather than products, FutureBrand UXUS imagined this concept store to offer a new and engaging way to shop.
The store operates for two key audiences – the microadventurist; an outdoor explorer who regularly takes part in sporting activities and is eager to learn new skills, and the recreational specialist; an amateur professional with a defined expertise and keen enthusiasm. In order to capture the different types of consumer, FutureBrand UXUS employed its signature zoning strategy, dividing the store between a communal space and a product experience. In order to create a social atmosphere, FutureBrand UXUS designed the Shimano welcome lounge, ‘Shimano Go’ and a workshop area, providing customers with a designated place to gather and get to know each other whilst learning about the history of the brand. The Shimano welcome lounge screens live sport, including events such as the Tour de France and iconic films about cycling, rowing and fishing. FutureBrand UXUS incorporated an interactive screen into the ‘Shimano Go’ area with a map planning feature, so users can save the locations of their favourite fishing spots and sync them to their Fish Shimano app.
The second half of the store houses the products – this section contains specific areas for each key focus; fishing, rowing and cycling. FutureBrand UXUS identified the opportunity to incorporate key technological features here that elevate the overall customer experience.
For cycling – The Shimano Experience Centre features an exciting virtual reality simulation booth for customers to trial the brand’s latest bikes in an immersive setting. Mimicking different terrain and inclinations, the VR booth offers excursions across mountains, woods and plains. Complete with optional wind and sound effects, the simulator can provide customers with a unique opportunity to actively test the products available.
Alongside this, the store offers a variety of other trialling moments within the space, including display screens whereby the user can cycle with the sensation of training outdoors. Throughout the biking zone, FutureBrand UXUS has created different experimental points for customers to interact with all the different components of a Shimano bike, from the gears to the pedals. The centre also offers an ‘optimal cycling’ station, where staff members use a model bike to personalise your cycling experience and determine the shape and size of your ideal bike.
For fishing – Customers have the chance to trial Shimano’s wide range of fishing equipment using different screens throughout the store. As well as a spacious and interactive display area, there is the option to test different lines and simulate your own fishing journey. To realise a space for this activity, FutureBrand UXUS created a mini fishing booth that features different fishing rods that connect to a large screen behind a plinth. Customers are able to select the product they wish to trial and then experiment with Shimano’s fishing programme to try and catch a virtual fish.
For rowing – The centre offers a rowing simulator where customers have the opportunity to race. Rowing is an instrumental part of the Shimano message, and so FutureBrand UXUS ensured that this focus was incorporated into its zoning strategy for the space.
FutureBrand UXUS approached the design of this centre by fusing elements of the natural world with the latest technological advancements. A minimal colour palette of white, grey and Shimano’s signature blue opens the space and creates the perfect platform to highlight the latest product ranges. FutureBrand UXUS also selected a limited number of materials, opting for concrete and plywood to create a clean atmosphere that is both connected with nature and with technology.
The primary function of the Shimano Experience Centre is to act as an educational and communal space whilst simultaneously showcasing the latest products. The ‘Heritage cloud’ is an important feature to inspire learning – this interactive timeline details the history of the bicycle, and in turn history of the Shimano brand.
A key focus for FutureBrand UXUS in this project was to create multiple spots across the store for customers to linger, allowing them to learn more about the brand and have the chance to socialise. The zoning strategy and immersive product trialling areas contribute to this aim, conceiving a space that customers can fully engage with.