The RHS Garden Wisley has opened the doors to its new Welcome building and Plant Centre.
Designed by gpstudio, the plant centre is one of the largest of its kind stocking the most unusual and rare varieties of plants, a book shop showcasing the largest collection of horticultural books in Europe, a dedicated RHS members area including a dedicated lab, a ground-breaking retail space, a spacious cafe and a relaxing restaurant.
‘A space to inspire passion and excellence in the science, art and practice of horticulture’ -where customers can dwell, explore and enjoy all the RHS has to offer.
The brief was to set the global benchmark for Horticultural retailing by creating an inspiring retail destination, promoting awareness of the RHS charity, redefining the customer journey and dwell time, and increasing commercial traction.
The concept ‘A walk through nature’ has been realised through a series of dynamic spaces that bring the customer to the heart of the experience, encouraging them to explore, learn and shop the unique horticultural offer, within the custom-built building to encourage a new generation of horticulturalists and visitors of all ages.
Clearly defined spatial planning along with a warm, natural and evocative palette of colours and materials enhance the customer journey by creating a narrative, filled with points of interest which encourage the customer to pause and explore.
Key focal points within each department, the Library, with views of the garden, the Tool Shed and the Potting Shed which provide newness, seasonal promotions and events ease navigation whilst retail avenues and walkways are interrupted with unique product displays, visual merchandising and interactive installations.
Modular fixtures are used throughout the building to carry the bulk of the product and offer flexible ways of displaying product whilst adjustable shelving allows a range of varying product sizes and types to be displayed together, creating the opportunity to cross merchandise, create product stories and generate more sales.
In the heart of the glasshouse is located the RHS Members lounge, offering an extended level of service by providing an area specifically for one on one consultation whilst digital shopping aids to help the customer engage and learn more about the products on offer.
Stepping out into the outdoor plant centre, raised beds allow for more products to be displayed alphabetically and make for an easier shopping experience. Feature product displays constructed in corten steel guide the visitor through the space and weather naturally with time.
The Cafe offers visitors to enjoy a break before or after visiting Wisley and lends itself to the light and airy nature of the space. Victorian botanical illustrations and colours are interpreted in a modern and graphic way to create a fresh and whimsical look and feel to appeal to visitors of all ages.
The Restaurant is a true celebration of the seasons with a floor to ceiling vista onto the gardens which create a backdrop to a more formal dining experience.
Drawings and artwork from the vast collection of original Victorian botanical illustrations from the RHS library, are highlighted on the main picture gallery wall. Playing with scale of the illustrations and a subdued colour palette, the overall design creates a sophisticated yet down-to-earth ambiance for a more intimate setting.
Neutral colours and a minimal aesthetic combined with rich patterned soft fabrics make the restaurant a relaxing environment to be in.
The new welcome building and plant centre at RHS Garden Wisley has become a destination, an event and an experience, to discover, to engage, to learn and to shop.