Interview with James Dwyer, Design Director, Lumsden Design //
What is the “Warner Bros. Studios Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter” offering to his visitors and Harry Potter Fans? What makes the store experience so special?
Dwyer: The Warner Bros. Studios Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter is a permanent exhibit offering a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the Harry Potter films. It showcases iconic sets, props and costumes so that Harry Potter fans can experience the magic of filmmaking first-hand. The major aspiration for the commercial areas was to design unique, compelling experiences that seamlessly blend with the Studio Tour itself. The storytelling doesn’t start or stop with the tour, it starts the moment the visitor arrives and permeates all spaces from café to retail and beyond. As an integral part of the overall guest experience these spaces had to reflect the same fun, authenticity and attention to detail and give visitors and fans a truly unforgettable experience.
What does the significant expansion of this project in 2019 include? What are the new areas?
Dwyer: The vast expansion project includes the refit of existing retail spaces and increased floorplan from 6,000 to 9,000 sq. ft. and creation of three new cafés – Hub Café, Frog Café and Food Hall – all of which have been brought to life with the use of authentic props seen in the Harry Potter film series. The Hub Cafe sits beneath a life-size flying model of the Gringotts Ukrainian Ironbelly dragon, here guests can enjoy Starbucks coffee surrounded by hundreds of authentic prop potion jars seen in the Harry Potter films. Serving hot drinks and bespoke deserts, the Frog Café is modelled on the box of chocolate frogs in the Harry Potter franchise that come to life. The design manifests in an ornate pentagonal canopy inspired by the angular chocolate packaging as seen in the films, completed with brass detailing in a range of handmade finishes. Flanking each side of the Frog Café hall are highly-detailed 70ft-long depictions of the Marauder’s Map, a magical artefact that shows the movements of characters within the films, providing an unmissable photo opportunity for visitors. The adjacent Food Hall takes inspiration from the Great Hall at Hogwarts. Lumsden worked with the film’s original set builders to create the iconic hammerbeam vaulted ceiling with floating candles and an illuminated night sky. Tables in the 500-cover Food Hall are fitted with trackers so food is brought direct to diners as if by magic.
The retail experience has been reconfigured as 11 shops within shops inspired by the Diagon Alley set design. The new layout allows for intelligent regrouping of products for visual storytelling and intuitive wayfinding. Each area is meticulously detailed to enhance the visitor experience. From the Dark Arts area with its high vaulted ceiling and 16-ft high stained-glass window – an authentic prop used in the film series and repurposed from the original store – to the Wand Shop, featuring a digital window and product demonstration area inspired by the interior of Ollivanders, each area has been meticulously detailed to enhance the visitor experience and capture the magic of the wizarding world. Visitors can try out their very own wand or even see their name stitched into their choice of Hogwarts house robes.
The culmination of the retail visit is a gallery and collectables space, a celebration of beloved character Albus Dumbledore. Inspired by the Hogwarts headmaster’s office, the centrepiece of this space is an authentic orrery prop from the set of the Hogwarts Astronomy Tower which floats above a display of high-end collectables.
How important was the commitment to guest experience when designing the new areas?
Dwyer: The commitment to guest experience was paramount for every area of the project. We wanted to create spaces that would surprise and delight visitors and fans at every turn. It was important to give new fans a sense of wonder and create memories they can grow up with. Likewise, for lifelong fans who grew up with the books and film series and are now seeking Harry Potter babywear for their own families, we wanted to give the chance to form new memories and experiences.
What were the major challenges of this project?
Dwyer: The main challenge was ensuring minimal impact to the visitors. The tour remained open throughout construction and the retail space was never closed for more than 10 days. Despite that, we’ve elevated the existing areas and added a whole new level to the visitor experience.
Warner Bros. first commissioned Lumsden to design the original Studio Tour Shop when it first opened in 2011. Since then we have collaborated on several projects in both the UK and US and this project saw the leading visitor attraction expanded and redeveloped in the face of increased footfall and in line with the expansion of the wider tour experience. This time around we were commissioned to design and project manage the design of all of the commercial spaces. More infos about the tour: www.wbstudiotour.co.uk
Mehr Praxisbeispiele aus dem Bereich Ladenbau hören Sie beim dritten Teil der EHI-Session „Retail Design 2020 – Aus Wissenschaft und Praxis / Erlebnis statt Produkt“ am 1. Oktober 2020 im Livestream. Mitarbeitende von Handelsunternehmen können sich kostenfrei anmelden.