Under Armour China Experience

Retail Theater

Under Armour’s new Shanghai store flips the traditional retail model and focuses on experience over product. Designers HUSH will be at Xlab 2014 to tell the story!

When Under Armour planned its retail store debut in Shanghai, its goal was to create a one-of-a-kind immersive experience that would take the Chinese market by storm, transporting shoppers into the vivid world of sports training. For the new store at Jing An Kerry Center mall in Shanghai, HUSH (New York) designed a sensory-challenging space that transcends cultural and language barriers and translates the Under Armour brand into pure sight, sound, and form.

The HUSH team employed a delicate blend of architecture, VFX, 10.1 surround sound, and a panoramic, live-action film of Under Armour athletes in the midst of intense training sessions—including Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps.
HUSH worked intensely with the Under Armour creative team, Tight Shirt Productions, and the Under Armour China team to deliver on the original idea put forth by Under Armour’s founder and CEO, Kevin Plank.

“The goal was to create the first chapter of their new retail theater concept,” says HUSH Creative Partner David Schwarz. “We designed the experience to tap the most visceral of human senses, and connect the Chinese audience intimately with the Under Armour brand. We helped potential Chinese customers see, hear, and feel the core values of Under Armour amidst China’s unique culture of athletics, training and organized sport.”

The retail experience combines a 270-degree panoramic film (shot with custom designed GoPro camera arrays), bespoke architectural and lighting design, projection mapped surfaces, various AV technologies, and 10.1 surround sound into an explosive, all-encompassing experience. Upon arrival, visitors see a highly angular, closed-off retail façade designed to contain the energy within—an enigma compared to the open glass facades of the surrounding stores. Visitors then enter a sensory decompression chamber, created with a tunnel of bright LED walls and directional sound—a bold contrast to the mall’s polished interiors. The lights cut off, revealing an image of Michael Phelps beckoning them further inside. As they pass into the cavernous 270-degree theater, they experience a six-minute film distilling Under Armour’s essence into a raucous, heart-pounding blend of cross-category sports training, UA athletes, and VFX taking them from soccer pitch to basketball court, from Baltimore to China. Finally, they emerge in a custom-designed retail space—a gallery-like, minimalist shrine to a few core Under Armour products.

Schwarz says the concept flips the typical retail store model on its head: instead of using the entire 3,000 square feet for merchandise display, the concept devotes just 1,000 square feet to product. “Instead of 90% products and 10% brand experience, we reversed it: 90% experience and 10% retail products.”

Collaborators:  Under Armour, HUSH, Marc Thorpe Design, Antfood Music & Sound

Photos:  HUSH

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Xlab 2014—November 6 in New York—is SEGD’s digital conference, focused on how YOU can integrate digital experiences into your next project. More about Xlab here.

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