National Treasure

An eclectic pick of eco-friendly products awaits at National Geographic’s first Asian store.

Issue: Mar 2009


The famous yellow border, the iconic photography – National Geographic magazine has been an instantly-recognisable fixture since the Society first published it in 1888, and now the brand has become a global phenomenon, recently opening its first Asian store in Singapore. Designed as an innovative and contemporary space surrounded by interactive visual displays, the cutting-edge architectural design provides a unique platform to display its eco-friendly products, services and mission-oriented projects.

National Geographic’s hallmark, the achingly beautiful photography that made the magazine the institution it is, is a key part of the experience. Exhibitions that coincide with what’s happening in-store are a constant feature. The current showcase, “Odysseys and Photographs”, features images of past explorations by its photographers and explorers, as well as a picture showcase on frogs. All prints will soon be available for purchase.

Launched in December last year, this is the non-profit organisation’s second global store; the first opened in last November in London. Both were done in partnership with Worldwide Retail Store, which holds the license for National Geographic stores in more than 80 countries outside the United States. Alex Dotti, senior vice president of marketing and sales of the National Geographic Store says Singapore is an ideal location, given its reputation as a tourist and shopping destination with multi-cultural influences. He adds that the National Geographic Channel is already available in over 56 million homes across Asia Pacific and its magazines enjoy a readership of over 100,000 in Singapore alone.

An Eco-conscious Shopping Experience

Photography showcase “Odysseys and Photographs”

The store reflects the themes of exploration and conservation - values for which National Geographic is renowned. In line with environmental conservation, the furniture used for fixtures and fittings was not built for the store but rather collected from around the world. An eclectic mix of furnishings made from recycled materials, such as reclaimed wood and metal from old industrial machines, bridges and railways, is available for purchase. Some of the more unusual items include a gargantuan horse made entirely from driftwood, which has drawn many curious shoppers into the store. An allegory of the bronze sculpture of the four horses at the main entrance of St Mark's church in Venice, this driftwood horse was shipped from Bali, and is unique, environment-friendly and inspiring.

Dotti says the 1,500sqm store is designed to be a “versatile, open and constantly-evolving environment,” and that as these unique items are sold, they are replaced with similarly sustainable items. Products that meet both National Geographic’s sustainability and ethical criteria are sourced worldwide. The store’s ‘Found by’ range features rare, unique and specially selected products from around the world, including hand-stitched camel hide bags from Kenya. Dotti says this range not only helps preserve traditional crafts but also helps to provide sustainable livelihoods for those who made the products. The ‘Selected by’ range features items such as handmade aromatic candles and champagne and wine coolers produced by retail partners are both appealing and useful. Customers can also purchase a wide selection of National Geographic magazines, books and DVDs.

The library section in-store

Visitors are also supporting a worthy cause when they shop at the store, with net proceeds going towards the National Geographic Society’s exploration, conservation, research and education programmes. John Fahey, National Geographic's president and CEO, says: "Our goal is to inspire people to care about the planet, and our strategy is to continually find new and exciting ways to engage the public.”

Further store openings are planned worldwide, including other Asian cities. Following on from its success at the London store, National Geographic is currently scouting a suitable venue in Singapore to house Asia’s first National Geographic café.

Asia’s first National Geographic store is located in Singapore’s largest shopping mall, VivoCity, #01-19/20.

More images

The explorer clothing line and a display of fire fighting
equipment used in the past
Picture showcase on frogs

Inside the climate chamber

Rugged basic clothing line

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