Waterstones 2035  —  Brand Repositioning

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PROJECT DETAILS

Helping the UK's largest bricks and mortar bookseller reclaim the high street again.

Waterstones is the UK’s most widespread bookshop and the last remaining chain of specialist bookshops on the high street. It caters to book-lovers and casual shoppers alike and is a very approachable, down-to-earth brand. However, it is increasingly threatened by a growing trend of dematerialisation and will need to defend its spot on the high street by providing more than just books.

As part of a group project, our future vision aims to refresh the concept of a legacy. We wanted to decouple it from tangible objects (like books) and enable ‘everyday’ legacies to be made in-store, through interactions with others.

Why Waterstones?
Digital detox

Meeting and connecting with friends becomes more and more digital-based; we don’t want our legacies to be confined to a screen, but rather our memories we create together when with others. We use our friends as sources of inspiration, and it’s the physical, immersive moments together that stick in our minds, that are our everyday legacies.

How can Waterstones facilitate this, without the traditional 'alone-time' medium of books?

Meeting and connecting with friends becomes more and more digital-based; we don’t want our legacies to be confined to a screen, but rather our memories we create together when with others. We use our friends as sources of inspiration, and it’s the physical, immersive moments together that stick in our minds, that are our everyday legacies.

How can Waterstones facilitate this, without the traditional 'alone-time' medium of books?

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Sharing small, everyday, legacies
The W Café

More often than not, we share images, songs, stories that we find interesting to one another. In the past, this used to be with physical photographs, and now it’s phone displays. However, digital distractions remain a pain point. In many stores throughout the country, Waterstones has the ‘W Café’, a place where people can take a break from browsing or reading and can sit and chat together. This is a perfect opportunity for enhancing the connection between friends.

More often than not, we share images, songs, stories that we find interesting to one another. In the past, this used to be with physical photographs, and now it’s phone displays. However, digital distractions remain a pain point. In many stores throughout the country, Waterstones has the ‘W Café’, a place where people can take a break from browsing or reading and can sit and chat together. This is a perfect opportunity for enhancing the connection between friends.

The problem
Meaningful interactions?

Prior to mobile phones, human interaction was not optional. Now, people are deciding to “opt-out” of conversation.

50%

45%

35%

15%

50%

Use their smartphone while meeting friends

45%

Use their phone while talking to family

 35%

Use their smartphone while at a restaurant

 15%

Use their smartphone while crossing the road

Use their smartphone with friends

Use their phone while talking to family

Use their phone while at a restaurant

Use their phone while crossing the road

THE TASK

How can Waterstones compete with the growing trend of de-materialisation?

Concept exploration
Displays as tools

A product that could enhance conversation and start talking points via shared content was developed. However, removing the digital distractions was an important point. Waterstones is all about physical, tangible objects (books). Through prototyping, it was discovered that the interaction of receiving coffee allowed for the development of a 'smart coaster' that could double as a coaster, but contain a hidden screen.

A product that could enhance conversation and start talking points via shared content was developed. However, removing the digital distractions was an important point. Waterstones is all about physical, tangible objects (books).

Through prototyping, it was discovered that the interaction of receiving coffee allowed for the development of a 'smart coaster' that could double as a coaster, but contain a hidden screen.

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Moodboard
CMF & Form

The idea of 'nestling' forms to show coziness and comfort. Wood as a base material, to echo 'bookshelves', and lots of complementary colours to echo the book covers themselves. Texture and ridges to imitate the different levels of books on shelves.
 

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Colour, material, finish
Inspired by bookshelves

Colour, material, finish
Inspired by bookshelves

While still a digital device, the CMF needed to evoke the ethos of Waterstones: playful, but not childish; raw, but not basic, classy but not exclusive. Influenced by the bright, colourful and chaotic nature of bookshelves, a CMF was developed utilising contrasting colours paired with natural Maple wood. This echoed the familiar nature of a bookstore and also provided a fantastic feel when interacting with it.

While still a digital device, the CMF needed to evoke the ethos of Waterstones: playful, but not childish; raw, but not basic, classy but not exclusive. Influenced by the bright, colourful and chaotic nature of bookshelves, a CMF was developed utilising contrasting colours paired with natural Maple wood. This echoed the familiar nature of a bookstore and also provided a fantastic feel when interacting.

While still a digital device, the CMF needed to evoke the ethos of Waterstones: playful, but not childish; raw, but not basic, classy but not exclusive. Influenced by the bright, colourful and chaotic nature of bookshelves, a CMF was developed utilising contrasting colours paired with natural Maple wood. This echoed the familiar nature of a bookstore and also provided a fantastic feel when interacting with it.

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The W-Café device
A smart coaster

A device that comes with your drinks - a 'smart coaster'. Removing the wooden lid (and hot drink) accesses the display below, to share photos with friends. Connecting the screens together via the pips and holes on the side creates a larger display, showcasing common memories.

A device that comes with your drinks - a 'smart coaster'. Removing the wooden lid (and hot drink) accesses the display below, to share photos with friends. Connecting the screens together via the pips and holes on the side creates a larger display, showcasing common memories.

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How does it work?
The W Café experience

1: Visit the W Café with your friends,
take a seat and order a coffee or two.

2: When the waiter comes to deliver your drinks,
receive them on a peculiar device.

3: Pick up the coaster to remove your drinks
- there's a display beneath it.

4: Tap your phone to the device to connect it wirelessly,
now you can put your phone away.

5:  Share and reminisce your experiences via photos,
with no distractions from outside.

6: Connect the displays up in any format you like. Once connected, the tech inside detects your shared photos and interests to bond over.

How does it work?
The W Café experience

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Visit the W Café with your friends, take a seat and order a coffee or two.

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When the waiter comes to deliver your drinks, receive them on a peculiar device.

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Pick up the coaster to remove your drinks - there's a display beneath it.

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Tap your phone to the device to connect it wirelessly, now you can put your phone away.

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Share and reminisce your experiences via photos, with no distractions from outside.

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Connect the displays up in any format you like. Once connected, the tech inside detects your shared photos and interests to bond over.

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➊  Protective maple coaster
➋  OLED display with integrated NFC
➌  Li-ion battery
➍  PCB
➎  Concealed barrel connector

Key technologies
Galvanic Skin Response

Key technologies
Galvanic Skin Response

Key technologies
Galvanic Skin Response

Key technologies
Galvanic Skin Response

Key technologies
Galvanic Skin Response

Key technologies
Galvanic Skin Response

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Multiple orientations for images, dependant on users phone location

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Connecting devices together creates larger displays. More devices, the larger the display.

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Machine learning to analyse friends images and display features that facilitate talking points when devices are connected together

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Location data from users devices and Waterstones stores to aid discussion about books/events in store 

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NFC built into the display to allow one touch connection from users phone to the devices

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IR sensors built-in to detect if coaster lid is in place or not. Removing the coaster starts the session, replacing it ends it.

Multiple orientations for images, dependant on users phone location

Connecting devices together creates larger displays. More devices, the larger the display.

Machine learning to analyse friends images and display features that facilitate talking points when devices are connected together

Location data from users devices and Waterstones stores to aid discussion about books/events in store 

NFC built into the display to allow one touch connection from users phone to the devices

IR sensors built-in to detect if coaster lid is in place or not. Removing the coaster starts the session, replacing it ends it.

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© 2020 Emilios Farrington-Arnas