Area 17 INRES Carlo Ratti: Supermarket of the future Bicocca Milano

Carlo Ratti, Area-17,



Porcelain Tile,

Iris Ceramica,

Area 17 and INRES have created a “Supermarket of the Future” using Carlo Ratti’s experimental technologies. The Coop store in Milan’s Bicocca Village, designed by Area 17, INRES and Carlo Ratti Associati, ushers in the change with Iris Ceramica porcelain floor and wall coverings.

Area 17 INRES Carlo Ratti: Supermarket of the future Bicocca Milano
The prototype Coop presented at Expo 2015 has been implemented in a permanent project for the first time in the new Coop store in Bicocca Village in Milan, nicknamed the “Supermarket of the future”.
New multimedia product communication technologies developed by Carlo Ratti Associati for Coop are used in a new grocery store concept by Area 17 and INRES. The project in Bicocca Village incorporates Iris Ceramica floor and wall coverings, including recent new products developed in partnership with the Diesel brand.
The supermarket’s young target inspired an innovative design which updates the concept of the grocery store, making it into a place of entertainment, in which the finishes used in the interior convey the store’s welcoming feel and focus on quality.
There is already one big Coop supermarket in this area in northern Milan, and the new store does not aim to compete with it in terms of numbers. The Coop designed by Area 17 and INRES is part of an entertainment facility, incorporating Bicocca Village, Italy’s second largest cinema in terms of number of admissions, in which stores are combined with quality restaurants and fitness and leisure facilities. More than just a classic shopping centre, it offers a new context for shopping, strongly oriented toward young people, the primary users of the augmented reality and multimedia technologies linked with Carlo Ratti’s experimental product, now available for use in real supermarkets.
Studios Area 17 and INRES designed the perfect place for this sensibility and this kind of shopping experience, transforming shopping into a time for learning and making conscious choices. The supermarket, which is divided into a dining area and a shopping area, both accessed through the same large entrance, is immediately identifiable as different from other stores, with lower display racks allowing shoppers to look around and see throughout the store interior. The theme of transparency represents a key value of the Coop brand, expressed here as absence of physical and visual barriers. The upper part of the wall is occupied by graphics with simple, relaxing messages against a wooden backdrop. The texture of the wood is repeated in the Madeira Corda 120x20 porcelain floor slabs made by Iris Ceramica: a finish bringing to mind rural homes, farmhouses, and rediscovery of traditional flavours, suggesting to users that this Coop offers unique quality products. The anonymous look characteristic of grocery stores, which stood out from one another only by offering different products, is thus eliminated, replaced by the identity of the Coop brand, welcoming shoppers with a homey atmosphere. 
The lighting is soft and localised: lights from above illuminate specific areas without dazzling people when they look up from the products on display, while spotlights create pleasant diffuse light on the shelves without stressing the eyes, but encouraging an experience of discovery. An experience which is reinforced by the technology of banner monitors for augmented labelling in the fresh produce area: shoppers simply move a hand close to a product of interest, and the flatscreens above it display additional information, such as origin, nutritional value and particular properties. Shelves of fresh and packaged foods are interrupted at intervals by touch totems offering further information on the goods.
Like the store interior, the washrooms are also particularly well-designed: the floors and walls are covered with porcelain slabs from Iris Ceramica’s new collections designed in collaboration with the Diesel fashion brand, in a nod at the industrial and metropolitan atmospheres inspired by today’s youth culture.
The linear set-up of the displays makes the store layout particularly orderly, so that shoppers feel at home and relaxed right away, improving the efficacy and speed of the shopping experience, in line with the needs of today’s demanding consumers.

Mara Corradi

Architects: INRES; Area-17 Architecture & Interiors; Carlo Ratti Associati
Location: Milan (Italy)
Start of work: 2016
Completion of work: December 2 2016
Client: Coop Italia; Coop Lombardia 
Builder: DS Group
Gross usable floor space: 1600 sqm
Floors and walls: Iris Ceramica
Flooring in store area: Madeira Corda 120x20 assembled 3/4
Flooring in washrooms: Iris Diesel Metallic Boss Grey 60x60, Iris Diesel Stage Metallic Diving Grey 120x60
Wall covering in dining area: Iris May White 20x10
Wall covering in washrooms: Iris Diesel Industrial Glass Green 10x30

Photos by: © Pietro Savorelli