The future of retail design: 2018 and beyond

retail and exhibition design - justso

We might be halfway through 2018, but that hasn’t stopped WGSN and eporta from launching their report on the future of interior design – for this year and beyond. So far in 2018, we’ve seen a big focus on wellness, smart tech, minimalism, and of course plenty of millennial pink in the retail and exhibition design. So are we in for more of the same for the next few months? Or are big changes on the horizon?

Responsible reinvention

For years now, design has reflected a drive for sustainability. Recycled materials, energy efficient tech and indoor gardens have all contributed to making retail spaces greener. But now the focus is shifting from sustainability to responsibility. In retail and exhibition design, this will be reflected in experiential design that encourages education, interaction, and self-improvement.


The idea of self care exploded into the public consciousness last year, leaving its mark on everything from the workplace and schools to architecture and interior design. Self-caring interiors are all about allowing us to tune out from the world around us. In these safe spaces, we can mindfully connect with our surroundings and our own emotional health. This mindfulness trend has seen the rise of retail spaces designed for serenity, featuring plenty of natural materials, calming colours and interactions with nature.

Natural Connection

As the world speeds up, we all just want to slow down. Interiors that focus on mindful design, refined craftsmanship and natural materials epitomise the idea of slow living – and designers just can’t get enough. In the past few years we’ve already seen stores bringing nature inside, with indoor plants being used to create a calm and soothing environment for shoppers. The ‘living wall’ is a great example. These vertical gardens bring more than just colour to a store – according to a recent study, these green, bright spaces can increase sales by up to 37%.

In-store Tech

It might not have featured on the WGSN round-up, but technology has been at the forefront of design in the retail world, and it’s a trend that we know is set to continue. Video walls, sophisticated audio, AI, and 3D projection are all transforming the way shoppers interact with products, and helping brands stand out from the crowd.

Faberge were a great example of one of the first brands to get really creative with in-store tech when, back in 2015, JUSTSO created an interactive virtual Fabergé egg for their pre-Easter campaign. And it doesn’t stop at 3D projections. QR codes, Augmented reality and motion sensors are all making their way into retail design.

Social Media

Every brand hopes to create an ‘Instagram moment’ – so much so that social media shareability has become part of many of our client briefs. That means designing Insta-ready spaces that are a destination in themselves. Experimentation, risk-taking and plenty of savvy marketing are all part and parcel of making an experience blow up on social media. And as long as photogenic retail experiences keep on trending, brands will continue to create them.

From self-care to in-store technology, it’s safe to say that the retail and exhibition design is set to expand in all kinds of directions over the next few months. But there’s one thing connecting all of these trends – experience. Whether it’s connecting with nature or interacting with a 3D projection, shoppers want their retail spaces to be experiential, interactive and utterly memorable.