Local Color

With the rollout of Nokia's flagship stores around the world, designers Tim Kobe and Wilhelm Oehl are balancing Nokia's global brand with local flavor.

How do you create flexible concepts that can fit into a local community while still retaining and reinforcing the client's global brand image?

Tim Kobe and Wilhelm Oehl, principals of the San Francisco--based design consultancy Eight Inc.--who previously designed the Apple Stores for Steve Jobs--have come up with a novel solution to this problem in the new shops they've designed for Nokia. Product information is conveyed via video screens, which allows distinct digital content to be formatted for each store from a central point in Espoo, Finland. "They can custom-tailor the material for the local market, whether in terms of language or locally appropriate offerings, while retaining corporate oversight," says Kobe. For example, when Nokia opened the Moscow store, it invited local artists to contribute works that could be broadcast over the screens. The Nokia store, in effect, became a gallery. "We can change the feeling of the space at any time," says Oehl. Adds Kobe: "It's not local versus global. It's a combination of the two."

READER RIFF

More and more foreign retailers are transporting their global models to India, hoping to attract the few million at the very tippy top of the pyramid. And Wal-Mart is waiting in the wings. --Rashmi Bansai

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