Interior architecture firm Geyer worked in collaboration with Heinemann to create a new global benchmark that would position the brand strongly within the Australasian market.

The vast 5,800 square metre duty free store in the airport’s departures level opened in May 2016 making it the largest stand-alone tax and duty free store in the world.  This flagship offer is part of Heinemann’s 9,000 square meter retail presence at Sydney’s International Airport.

Geyer Design Leader Tim Giles says “A clear and consistent design language was called for to unify the multiple retail environments to ensure strong brand recognition for Heinemann.”

Another key consideration was the focus on passengers. “The project scale required skilled planning and specialist retail design to attract and retain passengers, giving them an empowering retail experience - easing their anxiety by making product and brands easy to find - while juggling luggage and navigating the airport terminal. That was also about creating an identifiably Sydney experience for international visitors and locals,” said Giles.

Conceptually Geyer’s design approach celebrates the collective identities of Sydney - conveying a distinct sense of place. “The Heinemann project is uniquely Sydney and this reference forms a memorable image for departing passengers.”

The design narrative was tailored to define each product category by a ‘Sydney sense’ such as ‘Balmoral Beach’, a sophisticated and chic expression for the Beauty Zone, Alexandria for the fine food and the Sydney Opera House inspired space to introduce luxury brands.

An “extensive process” was undertaken to select a palette that assisted in relaying the overall narrative and “provided the perfect backdrop to allow the design to come to life at a more intimate level” explains Giles.

It was the depth and texture of polytec Ravine’s finish for example and the way it picked up on the different lighting qualities and how that was experienced in the space that saw the product specified for the store’s curvaceous ceiling treatments. As well as visually connecting departments, working with the Ravine - Cafe Oak Natural Oak, Bleached Walnut and Maroso Milan - allowed Geyer to produce something special.

In contrast, the very smooth and soft finish of the Legato was specified in Crisp White and Bone White for back wall displays and joinery elements to allow product to stand out. Similarly Createc’s application in Ultra White and Black plays a “support role” as a skirting material on back walls and its application on joinery and fixtures across the floor plate, taking a back seat to the more refined timber-look laminates.

Geyer found “the consistency across the polytec family of product ranges in timber look and standard colour laminates provided the capabilities and simplicity of colour matching to the large Heinemann brand and the wide variety of branding moments without competing.”

An extensive process was undertaken to source materials that were fit for purpose and had the durability to withstand the demands of such a high traffic location.

“Materiality quality and appearance was quite integral to the design narrative” as a backdrop and to clearly signify to customers in such a “large landscape” what part of the store they are in, says Giles.

“The different Sydney senses help to identify different product types as well as create zones that break up the vast space into more human scale and intuitively navigable spaces. It was also about bringing curated local products to the international traveller as well,” he says.

To create that sense of place and a sense of identity for Heinemann, Geyer went

beyond signage and looked at how those spaces make you feel and how they tie in to the overall project.

The project was recently announced the Gold Winner in the [city] design awards 2016 Sydney, design100 in the Interior Design – Retail category.