An Interview with Nicki Light, Icon By Design’s Store Designer

Since its opening in August 2016, Icon By Design’s store in the Supa Centa Moore Park has enjoyed an overwhelmingly positive response from customers about their in-store experience. As the company prepares to open in 3 new locations in 2018, we spoke with Nicki Light, Icon By Design’s Store Designer, on the importance of brand, providing a service through design, and what we can expect from Icon’s new stores…

Nicki Light, at home with her two loves: plants and animals 

1. Describe yourself in three words.
Creative, social, funny (but maybe only to myself!)
2. What aspects of store design interest you most?
The psychology of design; how a successful store design can positively influence customers’ behaviour as well as their opinion of your product and brand.
3. Having started online, Icon By Design’s store opened at the Supa Centa Moore Park in August, 2016. What do you perceive as the relationship between online and physical stores?
A bricks-and-mortar store is a physical manifestation of a brand – which is, typically, an intangible concept. In store design, many concepts that work for online, do not work in real life, so a physical store marries reality with abstraction. A good store should be an immersive brand experience, as well as facilitating the more practical desire of customers to try the products.
For Icon By Design, I’ve tried to create correlation and consistency in mood; both our online and offline environments are minimal, but inviting. Like the website, our stores ‘hero’ our products, and adhere to a similar colour palette.

Icon By Design’s Moore Park Store, which opened in 2016

4. What were the biggest challenges in designing Icon By Design’s first physical store?
Being responsible for the first store design for the brand was a big challenge, as Adam and David (our Co-Founders) and I had differing views of what we wanted the store to represent. With a lot of prioritising and compromising, we managed to work together to create a cohesive whole that reflected the core of our joint vision.
5. Who do you think is leading the way in store design?
I look more at individual stores for inspiration than I do at designers. I love the Playa by Lucy Folk store in Bondi Beach and Monk House Design in Melbourne CBD. All the Aesop stores are beautiful and different to each other. I think all of these stores use their space as an opportunity to express the feel and ethos of their brand.
6. Customers’ response to the store has been incredibly positive – what is Icon By Design doing differently to other stores?
The most obvious difference is the atmosphere. We’ve used warm, subdued lighting; a carefully curated playlist; and even a distinct scent – all chosen to create a relaxed and inviting ambience. Our products are not over-crowded or over-accessorised; you encounter them as you would in a real home. What you can’t see, but you do experience, is our amazing customer service – non-pressured, but friendly and informative. All of these elements are designed to give our customers a luxury experience – but with a price point that doesn’t intimidate!
7. What does a ‘day in the life’ of a store designer look like?
Unsurprisingly, no two days are alike. Some days, I’m gathering inspiration through visits to galleries, showrooms, or other stores. Others, I’m going round trade fairs; meeting suppliers and tradesmen; supervising fit-outs, or physically placing furniture and observing customers’ interactions with the space.
8. With several new locations opening next year, what can we expect from Icon By Design’s future stores?
Our brand feel will be maintained through a consistency in atmosphere and customer service, but our new stores will have variations and unique qualities based on their locations, and their customers’ needs. “Recognisable, but bespoke” would be how I’d describe it!
9. What is your favourite Icon By Design piece?
The Marko Table – I feel like its’ a versatile size and good for inner-city living
Astrid Chair in Walnut + Sage Green – because I love the combination of the rich timber and the soft green.

The Marko Table in Solid Oak with Astrid Dining Chairs in Solid Oak and Sage Green

10. Lastly, where are you most likely to be found on your days off?
White Rabbit Gallery, checking out interesting / new bars and restaurants, or on my friend’s couch!