Barcelona is a melting pot of heritage and cutting edge technology, as much as a melting pot of Catalans and every nationality in the world. We begin at Sephora in El Triangle Shopping Mall, a shopping hub in the cultural centre of the city of Barcelona. Customers are enticed and guided in by the LED screens flanking the avenue with bold surreal shapes that almost make you feel as if you are entering a whole new world.

Once inside, small screens are everywhere within the store. There is a huge range of products so these act as wayfinding and also help shoppers to see the products in action before they buy.

Cottet Opticians
It makes sense that an optician would want to create an impressive visual experience. However, at Cottet they make signage for all the senses! There are interactive elements, where shoppers can pick up an object and key information is displayed on screen. Cottet has been in business for more than 100 years so between the latest glasses they have interwoven their own history, with screens providing facts, key dates and the story of the brand. This gives the entire space a feeling of heritage and prestige.

Pangea Travel
Next stop on our tour is the Pangea travel agency and shop. The building itself used to be a cinema so walking in feels like an experience, and the signage has been designed to enhance that feeling of escape. Your visit is like the start of your adventure. It’s hard to overstate how much this space subverts conventional expectations of a travel agent. For the clients and staff there are touch screens to provide quick access to information, perfect for someone who knows exactly where they want to go or for helping to guide them to their dream getaway. 

A wonderful touch is that the space maintains its cinematic roots. A central projector is the focus of the room, and the screens in the atrium can all be easily moved to make room for events, making the venue multi-purpose.

La Caixa Bank
Stepping into the world of corporate communications next we come to La Caixa bank, which as you walk in immediately makes a huge impression. An LED wall sits behind the cashier’s desk adorned with branded content, and central to the room is a column wrapped in a curved LED screen which extends through the floors. Similar to the travel agents, the building has been repurposed, but this time from a bar, and it is clear that the designers have thought very carefully about where to include signage.

Across the bank there are nooks with comfortable chairs and coffee tables where customers can relax, wait and do business. These spaces are free of screens as the designers rightly assume that customers will bring their own device.

El Dau Building
Finally we come to El Dau where investment business Colonial is based, and the lobby contains perhaps the most ambitious use of content so far. Walking in you are welcomed by the upper ceiling covered with an LED screen that wraps around the corners of the wall. It is fitted perfectly into the building and the quality is outstanding.

However what makes this installation stand out is the content itself; a 20-minute loop talking about the importance of climate change and its business commitment to effecting change. The building itself has Breaam environmental certification and the installations are governed by a Building Management System, which reduces energy costs. This isn’t to invalidate the importance or utility of smaller displays, but to me this installation shows the potential of signage and LED to communicate big ideas to a large audience.

What all these examples have in common is, they are integrated, engaging and innovative. By making them part of the architecture, each one is able to present something new that customers will not have seen before and convey a brand identity which enhances your experience of the space.

This guided tour to the best retail digital signage in Barcelona was first presented to viewers of this year’s virtual Digital Signage Summit at the end of July. See the full interview with Joan Aixa here: