Treat yourself to something special.

Vizona meets Norman Plattner, Head of Store Design at
The KaDeWe Group

Three great cities and three legendary stores: Berlin’s “KaDeWe”, Hamburg’s “Alsterhaus” and Munich’s “Oberpollinger” attract 20 million visitors a year. Since 2015, these KaDeWe Group stores have been fully renovated, also with support from the shop-fitting experts at Vizona.

Splitting the flagship store in Berlin into four sections based on plans by Pritzker prize-winner Rem Kolhaas (OMA) has created a particular stir. Norman Plattner is delighted by this transformation and all the processes involved. KaDeWe was always important to him, and is a place that is full of memories for him. He joined the company in 2008 and now heads the Group’s store design. We ask him about the convictions that guide him.

1. Mr. Plattner, are you pleased with your current mission at KaDeWe?

NP For me, even when I was a child, Berlin’s KaDeWe has always been somewhere you can treat yourself to something special and meet your friends. In the noughties, the store began moving from mere layout towards a strategy of “form follows content” and I really wanted to get involved in the new approach. And now we are converting my favourite place of yesteryear based on plans drawn up by star architects. What could be better?

2. What exactly is the purpose of the renovation?

NP KaDeWe alone has grown to 60,000 m² since 1907. We wanted to regain dimensions that customers can immediately grasp and create a sense of space that informs them intuitively about the products. We deliberately chose design architects who have no experience of goods racks but are masters in structuring space artistically. After all, we need not look far to find retail expertise and we have shop-fitting partners who can make the most of the individual design schemes. This way, we are elevating our store architecture to a level on which luxury brands feel at home and gladly communicate our shared position. Underlying our endeavours is the desire to be ready for a way of life in which treating yourself to something good is just what you do.

The department store has come back into its own as a social venue. Norman Plattner

3. What, apart from the latest statement pieces, are visitors currently looking for?

NP Each of our stores is an icon of its city. Store and city go hand in hand, and our design reflects this. Going by the feedback we receive from many local customers, sometimes even by letter, we see how much they appreciate this. They too are thrilled that “their store” is changing along with the city and its people. This sense of identification is crucial for us. When the coronavirus lockdown was lifted, we really noticed how pleased people were to visit us again. The department store has come back into its own as a social venue. That is exactly what we want to be – a place where people are simply glad to be. Gastronomy is one key to this, and that is why the restaurants and bars in KaDeWe’s renowned 6th floor remain open after the store has closed. We are also expanding the spa area linked to the beauty department and will have four times more space than before to offer these services.

You mean the intangible product world is becoming ever more important?

NP The two pretty much go together. Let me give you an example. We are presenting the latest e-sports car. Not because we sell cars, but because we are in line with the times and can see how topics and lifestyles are merging. At the same time, we are investing in online retail. Combining concepts like this is really exciting. Our stores are large and varied enough for us to present so many topics and bring them to life under one roof. Who knows? Maybe the department store of the future will be one huge showroom.

Whatever else changes, we will always offer this: the opportunity for you to take something nice and maybe a little bit luxurious home with you.