Some might assume that an ultra-modern store selling tech-based brands in a steel and stucco tunnel might lack warmth and a sense of hospitality. However, hengstyle is a haven where customers can relax, connect and immerse themselves in the finer things in life.
by Michelle Hespe
Taiwan’s gia-winning store – hengstyle – is devoted to “enriching life without boundaries.” And although the store focuses on 25 tech-based brands that provide “better lives, beyond technology,” it is as welcoming as someone’s finely curated home, with a library, bar and plenty of cozy places to explore, relax and be inspired by.
hengstyle started out in 1960 as a distributor of cameras and associated products and today is the number one home appliance and houseware distributor in Taiwan, with a presence in 68 department stores, one concept store and a staff of 550.
Tech is the hardware, not the base, of what hengstyle is. “Our goal is to shape a culture of new fine living. We want to lead people to mindfully feel life and open up to other ways of doing things,” says hengstyle’s senior director Sarah Chen. “We believe this living culture is a new fashion and one that is beyond just buying luxury goods.”
The dazzlingly white, steel and reflective tunnel-like building was designed to create a calming atmosphere so that visitors can step in from the busy streets of Taipei and immediately feel relaxed enough to explore at their own pace.
“The goal was to create an architecturally designed space where our 25 brands could be unified; a space where customers would walk in and see a style, rather than just products,” explains Sarah.
“It was incredibly time consuming to sculpt its multiple wooden structures and then there was the application of different materials on the surface, stucco plastering by hand inside and stainless surfaces outside.”
Rather than placing a focus on selling products, hengstyle is all about the many things that can be put together to assemble a fine lifestyle. Its grounding philosophy is about encouraging people to live well in every sense, while also making them feel a part of a welcoming community. It also has a magazine through which this approach is amplified.
Hengstyle’s store staff (called consultants) are trained to understand customers’ lifestyles and provide inspirational ideas beyond product function.
“Take Sodastream as an example,” says Sarah. “Staff will not only elaborate on how to use the machine, but also provide a drink recipe, a camping recipe or perhaps an after-workout recipe, as well as barware and tableware that might complement the Sodastream and be suited to the particular persona of the customer.”
In a similar fashion, when it comes to demonstrating products, hengstyle aims to elevate an experience beyond a demo in order to encourage customers to aspire to a new fine life. For example, to promote the brand Laurastar, the premium ironing brand from Swiss, the company collaborated with a boutique selling high-end suits.
“This way, we provided our members with a premium clothing experience, taking them through the fabrics and the fit, and offering inspiration for styling their look,” says Sarah. “Our task and our goal are to create unique, next-level experiences for those who pursue fine living.”
The gia jury applauded this approach to retail, noting that hengstyle “combines wellbeing with gastronomy, promoting healthy food and a healthy lifestyle. It is hospitality inspired retailing, balancing wellness with a cool aesthetic. Also spa-like in its conception, it invites the consumer to linger and explore.”
Another factor that makes hengstyle so different to other stores is its instant repair service. While waiting for a product to be fixed, customers can take advantage of different services – from yoga classes or reading a book in the library to enjoying a drink from the bar, which serves cocktails, mocktails and juices specially prepared for each customer.
“All of the library offerings and the special drinks are made to provide a ‘wow’ service,” says Sarah. “There are no ‘normal books or drinks’ – they are content that we curate to connect visitors and enrich their short journey in store. And the staff can enjoy them as well.”
Hengstyle is also dedicated to honoring Taiwan’s rich gourmet culture and history. “Through our culinary events we echo our new fine living concept,” says Sarah. “Our fine dining experience is not about Michelin stars, but rather about how the experience can make you feel – the essence and joyfulness of dining through curation, story-telling and really good local food.”
To help promote the event, media and influencers were invited to experience the Midnight Bazar prior to the actual event. As a result, on the day they became available, all 300 dining session tickets sold out.
“In everything we do, we’re devoted to promoting the hengstyle lifestyle—helping everyone define his/her own new fine living,” says Sarah. “But what is new fine living, you still might ask? It’s the lifestyle that makes you sense true abundance. It is beyond just consuming—every action you take or every experience we make should have a positive impact for the mind, life and society.”
To learn more about hengstyle, visit www.hengstyle.com.
Sponsored and organized by The Inspired Home Show and the International Housewares Association (IHA), gia (IHA Global Innovation Awards) is the world’s leading awards program honoring overall excellence, business innovation and creative merchandising in homegoods retailing. For more information about the gia retail program, the co-sponsors or participating in gia, contact Piritta Törrö at email@example.com. Additional information on gia is also available online at TheInspiredHomeShow.com/Awards/gia-Retailing.
For more information about The Inspired Home Show and to pre-register for the 2023 Show, taking place in Chicago on 4-7 March 2023, please visit TheInspiredHomeShow.com.