Barker & Stonehouse’s flagship store in Teesside Retail Park uses dramatic store design to differentiate itself from its rivals.

Furniture retailer Barker & Stonehouse reinforces its Northeastern roots (its first store opened in Stockton in 1946) with this flagship store on the Teesside Retail Park, following a £4.5m investment.

From the outside, the shop does well to counter the usual expectation about edge-of-town retail architecture, thanks to an elaborately patterned ‘living wall’.

But it is the interior that really scores. The store’s 48,270 sq ft covers two floors and was inspired by retailers in New York and Paris. Whatever the source of the internal blueprint, it is the visual merchandising that sets it apart from its rivals.

That ranges from a high brick wall to which seats have been attached, accompanied by the legend “please be seated” in red neon, to mid-shop columns clad in second-hand books.

Despite the store’s very modern commercial exterior the shopper enters another world when the threshold is crossed.