When designers begin to create a new store concept for a client, typically projects begin with a survey of the competitors stores to gauge where opportunities for improvement might exist. But designers Aleksi Hautamäki and Anders Nord faced a rare opportunity when they began work on a new concept wine store for Alko in Finland, no competitors.

Alko which is state owned, was given its monopoly status 75 years ago. It has a strong role in the Finnish society and has had divided opinions for decades. Those in favour of the monopoly think that the controlled distribution reduces social problems, while others view that alcoholic beverages should be available elsewhere, too. The challenge for designers was to develop a concept that would better serve all the different customer groups while departing from the very traditional way Alko used to look and operate.

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