Crea International designs futuristic Islamic bank in Qatar

Barwa Bank.

Crea International, an Italian retail design company, which specialises in real estate interior design, retail banking and telecommunications design, has completed a futuristic project at Barwa Bank, Qatar.

The brief was to create an environment for customers who are becoming more familiar with innovative technologies, a bank where people feel comfortable and welcome in a retail environment, similar to the luxury fashion market.

Crea claims to use a unique philosophy called Physical Brand Design, which creates design concepts, marked by a change between an old and a new way of conceiving physical spaces, illustrating the spirit of a brand.

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“I am extremely proud of the design concept of Barwa Bank. The service model innovation developed for Barwa is breaking the rules of current retail banking models: it introduces a free flow and browsing approach and integrates and expands the self banking model on one hand and strengthens the consultancy approach on the other,” said Massimo Fabbro, CEO, Crea International.

“The final result is feasible either from the quality of design or service level, which is a fully integrated experience driven by our unique Physical Brand Design methodology.”

Crea said the Barwa Bank design concept was one of the most challenging projects it has ever had: designing the most progressive Islamic bank of the future, showcasing modernity and coolness yet steeped in the traditional roots of the country.

It designed a central banking area hosting multifunctional workstations where the bank assistant can sit close to or in front of his client at a touch screen table. It wanted to make all its services transparent and paperless.

Viviana Rigolli, general manager, Crea, and strategy director of the project said the team approached the project in a logical and structured way. First, it studied the history and traditions of the country to become familiar with the components Qatari people felt belonged to their culture, then it analysed the mission of Barwa Bank and the values it stands for.

Finally, it looked at banking models both in Western and Middle Eastern countries to compare the differences between the two.

“The original inspiration came from both the landscape of Qatar and its nature: the dunes inspired the smooth shapes mixed with clear cut geometrical lines, the flowers of the desert with their delicate colours were a source of inspiration for being a symbol of energy and growth, the mother pearl and the finely carved architectural walls became the main components to translate the precious approach we wanted Barwa Bank to deliver,” said Libero Rutilo, design director.

“The bank would just be like a treasure chest: the centre of the branch hosts the precious blossom flower of the desert around which lies the orbit as petals, a series of work stations where the main bank activities shelter the growth of the country. The mother pearl luminescence dresses the whole space to capture the Qatari colours, while the inlays with Islamic arabesque run along the perimeter walls.”

Clients can browse in the branch and do not need to take a seat to queue while waiting their turn: each customer is welcomed by a butler who registers their attendance, while taking a look at the interactive tables showing its new products or electronic devices at the entrance.

A transparent shop front characterises the branch. There are no posters, no displays. All its ATM machines and mobile branches have been developed with the same design and the flower remains the symbol of Barwa Bank.

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