Our Place’s latest Melrose Ave billboard is more than just a store. A dropped checkerboard ceiling, ceramic tiles mimicking kitchens, a waved dining table made infinite by mirrors and a color palette that merges with the unique pastel warmth of its products, Our Place is making a mark with its design in the direct-to-consumer kitchenware space.

In 2022, retail net absorption was 76 million square feet, almost double 2019, and the vacancy rate hit a low of 4.2%, according to JLL
. In other words, there’s significant demand for retail space. Many factors drive it, but one is the influx of direct-to-consumer digitally native brands opening stores. Kitchenware used to be dominated by well-known national brands like Williams Sonoma and Sur La Table and all the department stores. However, Our Place is far from the only start-up entering the space today. For example, Fable is a Canadian kitchenware company that recently started opening stores. Others include Made In with a store in Austin, Kana, Great Jones, Jono Pandolfi, and many more. Therefore, to survive long-term, these brands must do more than create great products or simply open a store. That store needs to be memorable.

An exclusive and memorable store design is vital to long-term success.

The store design evokes that feeling of warmth and excitement that comes with inviting others into your home for an intimate shared meal. The customer shops a series of domestically curated vignettes, connecting with their products and brand mission on a new, multi-dimensional level, one that is both memorable and authentic,” Madelynn Ringo, head of Ringo Studio and designer of the Our Place Melrose store, stated.

The Our Place products are also known for design – the Always Pan and Perfect Pot come with various add-ons, like steamers and strainers, that allow them to be used for multiple purposes, limiting the overall number of cooking pots needed in a kitchen. So, it only makes sense that the store would imitate that experience.


The benefit of design goes beyond the four walls.

Design carries more weight as omnichannel is becoming recognized as a necessary feature of the direct-to-consumer journey. It means that whether a consumer is browsing in-store and purchasing online, vice-versa, or across other channels, they have an equally enjoyable experience. Of course, it’s hard to implement, but the reality is that customers shop across channels.

“Our stores are located where we already have a large community, where people know Our Place. But, even so, we have people walking in every day who are just learning about the brand for the first time, and we see in our direct-to-consumer metrics the impact of the people who drive by the store and just see this beautiful billboard,” shared Shiza Shahid, Founder of Our Place.

In addition to its standalone stores, Our Place is in various wholesalers across the US, Canada, and the UK. Even though it’s harder to control that experience, the brand is taking on more shop-in-shop partnerships, which are in-store pop-ups designed by the Our Place team. For example, the company currently has one open in Nordstrom
in New York City and will open another in Selfridges in April. “We’re thoughtful about which wholesale partners we work with and what the structure of those partnerships looks like, but if done right, it’s a rising tide that lifts all boats,” Shahid added.

Most direct-to-consumer brands focus on the wholesale space first, given the low-cost investment but equal opportunity to bring the products to customers in real life. An alternative technique is Jono Panolfi’s, which uses high-end Michelin Star restaurant partnerships to showcase products.

Retail today also needs to foster community.

One of the founding principles of Our Place stemmed from the power of food and sharing a home-cooked meal. As an immigrant, Shahid has always believed that “food and home cooking specifically is this incredible way to reconnect to our cultures, communities, traditions and food systems.” And the company made sure to showcase that value in its stores. It hosts events like book launches and food samplings, and in its Venice store, it even partnered with a local Asian-owned coffee and boba shop for its café. And the store’s design is critical to ensuring these community-driven events can occur.

This idea of community in retail is taking off. Almost every direct-to-consumer brand that opens a store appears to incorporate it, even national retailers like Sur La Table and Williams Sonoma. So, alone, it carries little value. But, with design, it creates an Instagram-worthy, shareable moment.

Our Place seems to lead in its overall offering for the kitchenware shopper, driven by its one-of-a-kind product and store design. However, the numerous players in the space and rising demand for retail bring to question its longevity. But, hopefully, its design will continue to set it apart.


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