London tea institution Twinings 216 Strand turns its former transactional-retail model on its head with an experience-driven store, courtesy of Dalziel & Pow.

Experience. Whether you’re talking about retail, hospitality or events, it’s a buzzword that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Brick-and-mortar retail, for instance, is no longer solely about the purchase but about connecting to a brand in a tangible way through a space that champions a sense of discovery.

That exact transference of priorities is behind the renovation of Twinings 216 Strand in London. Despite dating back to 1706, and being London’s oldest tea shop and thus a popular tourist destination, the property – Twinings’ only DTC store worldwide – had become a place of pure transaction. Creative agency Dalziel & Pow was briefed to transform it into the ‘true spiritual home of the Twinings brand’.

With that much history, Twinings obviously has a significant tale to tell. But the renewed store focuses not only on heritage but on innovation, wellness, lifestyle and ethical sourcing – aspects important to today’s conscious consumers. The designers say that ‘the quaint 80-sq-m space was designed to encourage customers to learn more about the brand in a way that is relevant, and adds value to their experience in an intriguing and surprising way’.

Within the so-called Home of Discovery, the unofficial name of the store, Dalziel & Pow created four interactive areas to lend rhythm to the customer journey. The Wellbeing touchpoint, for example, asks customers to check in with themselves before determining how they want to feel. The gesture of placing their hands on the corresponding dome triggers animations that detail suitable tea blends and supportive lifestyle tips. Other interactive ‘moments’ offer different perspectives on the brand, such as making transparent its ethical sourcing programme. The designers chose materials like grass cloth, raw oak, brass and stone to ‘give a sense of natural craft, quality and authenticity whilst always making the product the vibrant hero’.

The journey culminates at a sampling bar located at the far end of the store, adding taste, smell and touch to the experience. Here large-scale screens provide digital windows into Twinings’ tea plantations. To take tasting to a more intimate and immersive level, the basement was transformed into a private bar, where customers can attend masterclasses or hold private events. Dalziel & Pow made this space very different to the general area: the darker walls and ceiling surround a ten-seater bar designed for a personalized tea experience.