Cross the threshold and you plunge into the “Pink Side of the World,” immersed in that color, amidst neon lights and mirrors. Ironic, playful, luminous, exactly like the creative mind behind the first VeraLab flagship store, opening yesterday in Milan on Via Guido d’Arezzo. The entire Estetista Cinica world of beauty is now close at hand, thanks to a concept that grants form to a business model that is a perfect combination of online and offline, as well as a brand with 474K followers.
But let’s backtrack a bit for those not in the know. Cristina Fogazzi, alias “L’Estetista Cinica,” is a beauty guru who has spread the concept of feminine beauty for everyone, shifting two decades of experience in the beauty sector into a blog (Estetistacinica.it) and then the Bellavera beauty parlor in Milan, as well as beauty products by VeraLab. All with a good dose of pragmatism and wit (after all, her pen-name means “the cynical beautician”).
The success of her startup has led the distribution strategies – mainly focusing on the e-commerce platform Veralab.it – to emerge from the web, first taking concrete form in a special corner inside the Rinascente department stores in Milan, Rome and Palermo, and then naturally combining traditional shopping with online retailing.
Which brings us back to the present. The Milan debut of a concept store consolidates the integrated real-virtual approach, while for the first time offering a total experience that goes well beyond mere purchases.
To interpret the attitude, character and values of the explosive Estetista Cinica, the studio 23bassi has been called into play – after their interior design work for the Rinascente corners.
“Our goal was to create a place where the product can tell its story – says Chiara Frigerio, an architect and partner of the studio. – Every product should be visible and ready for use: hence the choice of displays and fixtures for touching and trying, also without sales staff, though one of the key factors of Veralab is personal consulting.” The storytelling goes hand in hand with the “wow” effect: “We want to amaze you! We didn’t want to make a store like so many others, but a place that would truly be unique.”
How can you help but be attracted by the sushi conveyor, always really in motion, that crosses the store to display skincare products? Or the Caveaux, bordered by a curved LED strip, protecting the Veralab treasures, the brand’s bestsellers, while offering an entrance to the fitting rooms?
How not to be hypnotized by the optical illusion of the flooring, whose pattern in resin and fiberglass seems to create dips at the center of the room? The games of illusion and distortion continue with mirrors and supermirror steel cladding walls and desks. The lighting also plays a decisive role: balancing technical and decorative light, each corner of the space, every design solution, is enhanced.
Two neon signs have the job of guiding clients to the Skin Bar – a zone set aside for trying out masks and relaxing – located on a balcony overlooking the store; on the first floor, the Shop Area is utilized for merchandising.
Here we also find a playful slide on which to place flacons ready for recycling, because the focus on nature is not only a matter of the quality of the ingredients of the products, but also of environmental sustainability as a whole: clients are urged to return empty containers for correct disposal by Veralab, and they receive a token to use in a mysterious vending machine. Just like an amusement park!
Beauty, fun, but also lots of art: the walls feature works by Banksy and Mr. Brainwash (thanks to the gallery Deodato Arte), as well as pieces by the digital artist DotPigeon, represented by Plan X Art Gallery, as a preview of an upcoming collaboration between the artist and VeraLab.
“A fantastic place you can visit not just to buy things, but also to have an experience,” says Chiara Frigerio, summing up the concept behind the new flagship store, which is also a perfect place for snapshots to post on the social networks: don’t forget the tag @estetistacinica!