With the launch this month of a new store in 5th Avenue, New York. The Camper brand continues to push the boundaries and defy the convention in retail design.

So how exactly did a Mallorcan family business grow to the dizzy heights of downtown Manhattan, with 52 stores based in 4 continents & an expanding hospitality sector of hotels & restaurants?

The story is one of duel contrasting philosophies. Since the birth of it’s first sales outlet in Barcelona in 1981, the product has maintained it’s strong identity. It’s sole firmly entrenched in Mallorcan soil, speaking the same visual language whichever continent it crossed.

Visual History of Camper Shoes

The retail stores (on the other hand) show constant innovation, reflecting and portraying it’s ethos and motto – imagination walks.

Each new store is an event, an exhibition of individualism. Constantly searching for new styles and concepts making their stores unique special places.

It’s an interesting case study in retail design, where the norm is to design around the essence of the product. Maintaining the same visual language from store to store. Knowing that when you walk through the door of a Nike Town, for example, you’ll instinctively know what’s around the next corner.

Camper throws this logic out of the shop window. When you walk into a Camper store you are just as likely to be met by a pair of floating shoes or a giant floral display of red blossoms. The depending factor is the collaborating design team who created that specific space.

Photo of Camper Store Seville by EMBT architectsWe see the European designers exploring and reflecting the essence of Camper’s roots. Doshi Levein in Rome with the Mediterranean sun, Isabel Lopez Vilalta in Bologna with Sky, Earth and Sea. And the Barcelona based EMBT in Seville starting their philosophical journey in the fields of ‘el campo’ in Mallorca.

The Japanese studios bring their own philosophies on-board. Stripping the concepts down to their raw elements, analysing each visual ingredient to create a simple form of complicated aesthetics.

Photo of the Camper Store Granada by A-cero

Photo of the Camper Store 5th Avenue New York by NendoFrom an analytic perspective, the fascination in the case study continues. You experience how architects and artists from different countries and cultures approach the same design brief, product and project – like a small scale Serpentine Pavilion.

And this is how the Camper shoe has stayed box fresh. Working with an array of artists and designers from different backgrounds and cultures. Each adding a shoe print to the rich collage that forms the Camper brand.

What are your thoughts about the Camper design philosophy? Have your say by leaving a comment.