Cotton Cottage is a 14 year old brand with more than 21 outlets across the country. Over the years Cotton Cottage has developed a unique branding strategy in the realm of handcrafted clothing in the country. The design of it’s newest store in Nerul, Navi Mumbai turned out to be a harbinger of innovation in design and visual merchandising.
The design approach for Cotton Cottage was steeped in research and learning’s from projects of relevance. Firstly the transition from a standalone retail store to a plush mall with leading brands in its context. This shift led to us creating a design language which was able to create niche and identity for the brand between the others. Secondly we broke down the idea of handcrafted garments to its lowest common factor- the artisans. With Cotton Cottage engaging block printers and weavers from across India, one needed to tell their stories through a parallel narrative inside the retail experience. This is achieved graphically with content that Cotton Cottage had invested into as part of their brand development exercise. The final and most challenging approach was to devise elements in design which would balance a brand dealing traditional Indian clothing within a contemporary trend in retail environment. This would entail devising a unique Indian contemporary format which would define it’s in store experience for the years to come.
The key element on the store front was the introduction of three arches which geometrically divided the frontage into equal viewing windows. These arches, inspired by Indian arched elements prevalent in the temples and forts of Rajasthan are simplified to create a contemporary minimal element defining the facade of Cotton Cottage. An element as simple as the arch will remain as a replicable feature for mall based and stands alone street front formats. The arch is used as an element further to define the merchandise display and to create contemporary forms for wall mounted mirrors and stand alone vertical display stands. The visual plane is punctuated by the use of handmade ropes which are slung from the ceiling to hold clothing below. An installation of cotton strings and discarded hand printing resonates the story of handcrafted techniques and the warp and weft of textiles. Graphical representation of block printing and weaving framed within the arched extensions of the display architecture and illuminated by the track spots inside the store narrate the parallel story of the origins of the clothing. The colour scheme evolution based with the final combinations coming through during the last mile of store execution. Given the myriad colours of Indian clothing and the ever-changing pallet we chose a dark woody laminate with a unique earthy green and deep gray ceiling. Accents of matte gold were achieved in trims across the woodwork and in the surface colour of metal fabricated display shelves.
The design of Cotton Cottage was an exercise in minimalism and defines the way the brand will look into designing its stores in the future.