Thanks to startup mattress company Tuft & Needle, architecture and design firm Hufft has found a soft spot in today’s hard-pressed retail market.
The online industry disrupter chose Hufft last year to design its experiential prototype store serving the Kansas City market, a project so successful that 10 additional stores are planned for 2019 in addition to stores in Portland, Ore. and Raleigh, N.C.
"The idea was to create a space that felt like home, making the mattress buying experience a little less intimidating," Hufft Design Principal Dan Brown said. "It can be uncomfortable to lay on the bed with your significant other or yourself."
Hufft's concept store in Leawood replaced the sea of flat mattresses and harsh lighting typically found in mattress stores with soft lighting and four semi-private rooms where customers can test mattresses and meet with a "no pressure" sales rep if needed. Orders are placed via iPad and shipped directly to the home.
“It’s exactly what people are talking about when they talk about the future of retail being experiential,” Brown said. “It’s lean, customer centric and experience-based. The concept is more about conveying the experience of the brand, rather than picking from 1,000 products. It’s not about having the most things but about having the most quality.”
Hufft’s on-site fabricating shop creates project efficiencies by producing everything from fixtures to furniture to in-wall rolling casework and cabinetry. The unique combination of retail design expertise and custom fabrication is helping the firm carve out a niche in the crossroads of e-commerce and experiential retail.
“We can quickly roll out these stores. They hand us a location and a box size and then we work with them to develop the concept using the KC store as a template,” Brown said. “While we are in the design process, we can also be building cabinets and fixtures, for the space so it’s a really seamless process.”