Sonos’ vision is to fill every home with music by making it easy for everybody to listen to their favorite music in every room. Their smart speakers create a high-fidelity audio experience that is in over 60 countries around the world.
For their first flagship retail store in New York’s SoHo, Sonos partnered with Hello to design the listening room experience. Up until the store opened, there was no good place to really hear the quality of Sonos speakers unless you went to a friend’s house. The retail store has soundproof rooms that simulate different environments in your home–a kitchen, a study, and a living room–with different combinations of Sonos speakers that you can control.
Each of the seven listening rooms has a custom interior design, from vintage inspired wallpaper and carpet by local artist Mark Chamberlain; to Illustrator Thibaud Herem’s designs inspired by architect Paul Rudolph; to a large scale piece from NY Times music journalist Mark Stamaty. Downstairs is a special analog room for the audiophile, complete with a selection of vinyl records to play on a 1960’s Dieter Rams-designed Braun component system next to an Eames Lounge Chair.
We designed a custom touch screen, which is at the center of every listening room, where you can play music, control the Sonos speakers, watch videos, and learn more about the products. Lighting is synced to the music and the TV for you to create the perfect listening experience, as if you were in your own home. If you need help, simply tap and someone will come in right away to help you.
For nearly a year, we built the digital experience in a secret prototype store. Working closely with user experience researchers and focus groups, we went through multiple iterations of the touch screen design. By prototyping the physical store with the Sonos team, we were able to hide a lot of the complexity of the hardware and software from users. Working in this way, we reimagined what a retail experience should be by creating a space that encouraged people to discover music like they once did in record stores.
We created the touch screen experience to be modular so we could easily adapt it for different languages (it’s in nine so far), different cultures, and different store environments. We’ve also adapted the digital experience for retail partners in North America and Europe.
Shortly after the flagship opening, a Sonos store launched in Shanghai leveraging the same technology to let people explore and discover music.