Australian brand Caroma introduced the world to the first two-button dual flush ceramic toilet in 1982. Today, the 77-year-old company continues to innovate, most recently unveiling a Sydney showroom that celebrates its heritage while offering a unique retail experience.
Caroma on Collins is a 2500-square-metre warehouse space in Sydney’s Alexandria filled with natural light. It was designed by architect Chris Gilbert of Archier, who wanted to create a space that showcased Caroma’s ongoing commitment to reduce water consumption in an immersive, interactive environment.
The brand’s rich Australian history—it began in Adelaide in 1941—is reflected in the 1000 native plants and trees that fill the space, irrigated by large silver rainwater tanks.
Tim Salt, CEO of GWA Group, which owns Caroma, says the space brings together Caroma’s vision of style paired with sustainability.
“Truly an experience-driven space, our aim is to immerse consumers and our customers into a world which champions Caroma’s design and innovation heritage and craftsmanship by showcasing many of our products in a truly modern and unique way.”
Interactive product displays
Throughout the showroom products are displayed in fully functional capsules styled by Australian design personalities including furniture designer Mark Tuckey, industrial designer Tom Fereday, and designer and stylist Emma Elizabeth.
They have created different ‘bathrooms’ (and a kitchen) that show the diverse ways Caroma product can be used to create different spaces. Each product is plumbed with water from the rainwater tanks so consumers can interact with the items.
Semee Dickerson, marketing director at GWA Group, says consumers expect retail experiences that immerse them in a brand.
“Our challenge for Caroma on Collins was to develop and deliver an inclusive, considered and easy experience so that consumers would enjoy the values of the Caroma brand and feel rewarded for spending time with us and would want to come back and spend time again,” she says.
“Each of the capsules are plumbed so consumers can have an authentic interaction with product, whilst being inspired by a total bathroom space. In addition, we offer a curated selection of alternative choices to demonstrate other product possibilities without overwhelming consumers with too much choice.”
Although it places great emphasis on its history, the Caroma is also committed to innovating, and has incorporated technology into the showroom. This includes a 3D modeller, where customers can map out their space to see what products would look like using a virtual reality (VR) headset.
As customers move product around, the bathroom scene on screen renders in real-time, and customers can take the rendered images with them for further consideration.
“All of the technology that forms part of the Caroma on Collins experience was developed to assist consumers,” says Dickerson. “From our consumers’ experiences, many renovators find the spatial planning and layout of their desired bathroom difficult to consider and visualise…
“Our aim is for consumers to have a tangible and positive experience and being empowered by the knowledge that they understand their space and what is achievable in it.”
The space was designed based on customer research, and Dickerson says customers have told Caroma they will visit a physical brand space a number of times to touch and feel product, before making a final decision.
To address this, each of the products on display has a card with key information and a barcode. These can be scanned at the design kiosks within Caroma on Collins, creating a customised list shoppers can use in conversations with contractors and to make purchasing easier.
“We wanted the consumer experience to be unique in emotion and pace,” says Dickerson. “Caroma on Collins offers a space in which to breathe, slow down, explore and experience.”
By Ruth Cooper