The Slow Shopping Experience – an Interview with Carlo Donati

  • The Slow Shopping Experience – an Interview with Carlo Donati

He is the creative mind behind the style of The Slowear Store, the one who designs and fits out each space devoted to the 'Slow Shopping Experience'.  
Architect Carlo Donati of Studio Donati in Milan really is our guy when it comes to understanding the ideas and references that inspire each one of our stores. We asked him a few questions about the creative process that leads to their unique design.
SJ: Designing retail spaces for the fashion industry has been your game ever since the Nineties. What changed in the way these spaces have been conceived over the years?
CD: The design of fashion retail stores has always been inspired by contemporary trends in architecture. Back in the 1980s everything was opulent and flashy whereas the 1990s brought along a minimalist and almost detached style. More recently, globalization and the need to somehow standardize their image led the major brands to make all their stores around the world look exactly the same.
SJ: What struck you most of the Slowear philisophy when you decided to work with us?
CD: The idea of offering all customers an emotional experience every time the enter one of our stores. The ambition to create comfortable and welcoming spaces that will make them feel at home, free to relax, leaf through a book, listen to some good music as if they were at a friend's - a friend who owns amazing clothes, and a friend they will certainly come to see again soon. I also loved the idea of shopping selectively - choosing a few, high quality items over a lot of cheaper and second-rate stuff. These concepts were the inspiration behind every single Slowear Store I designed.
SJ: How do you reconcile the need to create a unique personality for each store with the need to preserve a shared and recognizable identity?
CD: I worked with the Slowear team to create spaces with a soul, featuring site-specific references as well as shared elements - such as the brass wardrobes, a huge table, and a bookcase. For every single store we selected vintage and custom-made furniture to add some personality, so that our customers will immediately recognize the store as part of the Slowear group, and yet they will also be able to  appreciate the differences and the peculiarities of each specific space. This way, they will not experience the disorientation that comes from entering those chain stores that look all the same everywhere in the world.
SJ: How is the Slowear Store concept evolving?
CD: We started out with the idea of a 'homey' space conveying a sense of comfort, cosiness, and well-being. This is still our vision, although we are willing to make our retail spaces more and more sophisticated, scattered with unique and vintage pieces of furniture to create a stronger and more authentic personality. We do not want to design everything that's in our stores; we want to add one piece after another, gradually, selecting only great stuff just like you do at home - only under the guidance of an expert's eye.
SJ: Finally, we'd like to ask you a personal question: what's your idea of a slow lifestyle and how do you reconcile it with your everyday life in a big, busy and hectic city like Milan?
CD: Milan certainly is a hectic city - the pace of life and work can get almost overwhelming.  And yet if you learn to manage your time consciously a slow lifestyle is still possible. Take the way you deal with the traffic, for instance: I could never give up on my cycling, it allows me to take things slow and to experience the city differently. It's just like tasting some great food: as long as you are savouring it, time slows down and you get to focus on its taste. This can work for everything in life!

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personality  | Donati  | Store  | spaces  | stores  |

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