Cari­parma Crédit Agri­cole Bank

Of all things re­tail, banks seem to have been side­lined from the plethora. Cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion, con­sumer re­la­tions, ser­vice, com­fort, zon­ing, pleas­ing aes­thet­ics are all terms vo­cal of a re­tail ven­ture. A bank dwells upon the same and th­ese at­tributes s

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Cari­parma, a name not re­ally heard of in the bank­ing seg­ment in In­dia, is a part of Crédit Agri­cole Group, one of the lead­ing Euro­pean groups the in bank­ing and in­surance mar­ket. Banks dwell on mod­els of cus­tomer ser­vice and their suc­cess sto­ries build on foun­da­tions of cus­tomer re­la­tions. Cari­parma Bank, in this age ruled by brand iden­tity, drew up a new model which re­volves around the fo­cus of cus­tomer re­la­tion­ship. “For the first time, Cari­parma Crédit Agri­cole has de­vel­oped a new de­sign con­cept “My house bank” that cul­mi­nated in the open­ing of two branches in Mi­lan (Via Tu­rati and Via Crema). A na­tion­wide roll­out pro­gramme is tak­ing shape and the older branches will be up­graded to the new for­mat,” says Mas­simo Fabro, Chair­man and Founder, DINN!, the de­sign firm which brought the new model to life. When we speak of de­sign, aes­thet­ics is one thing and func­tion­al­ity another. A hand­shake be­tween the two and vi­ola; de­sign suc­cess knocks the door. At the new Cari­parma Bank the func­tional as­pect comes through, by achiev­ing the right bal­ance be­tween pri­vate and pub­lic spa­ces and their tran­si­tions to­wards each other. This de­mar­ca­tion makes it easy for the cus­tomer to carry out his bank­ing trans­ac­tions. The whole con­cept was de­signed to break the norm of long queues in banks to get work done. This re­flects in the zones cre­ated to carry out a holis­tic bank­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. The con­cept which they have fondly named ‘My House Bank’ springs from the ob­jec­tive of cre­at­ing com­fort­able set­tings

for a has­sle-free cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence. The space is seg­re­gated into four dif­fer­ent ar­eas - “area self 24/7” for all tran­si­tive money ac­tiv­i­ties; “wel­come area” that ren­ders an invit­ing sense; “one to one cus­tomer relation area” and “cus­tomer relation area” which is more cus­tomer-cen­tric. Defin­ing ar­eas with spe­cific pur­poses and in­cor­po­rat­ing a fluid jour­ney blurs the lines be­tween pri­vate and pub­lic and at the same time keeps pri­vacy in­tact. Com­ing to the phys­i­cal ap­pear­ance, the aes­thet­ics en­hances the func­tional pa­ram­e­ters of de­sign and com­ple­ment the root of the idea ‘My House Bank’. The scale of the space, the proportions of dif­fer­ent ar­eas and the treat­ment of the fin­ishes -- all emerge from ba­sic ar­chi­tec­tural con­cepts laid on the car­pet of a bank. Low­er­ing of the ceil­ing, the cap­ti­vat­ing walls and con­sis­tent use of wood cre­ate a con­tem­po­rary and fa­mil­iar set­ting. So­fas, book­cases, floor lamps, high-sit­ting chairs, pic­ture frames are all added el­e­ments which cater to the cus­tomer’s com­fort and do their part in cre­at­ing an in­ti­mate set­ting. The even­tual de­sign out­come how­ever flaunts an am­bi­ence of a con­tem­po­rary bank with a homely feel­ing in its un­der­tones. The fact that it is even­tu­ally a bank and not a home has to be quite bla­tant. The sig­na­ture colours of Cari­parma Bank, dark green and off white, man­i­fest in their per­fect bal­ance with the light shade of wood opted in the fur­ni­ture. The en­tire colour pal­ette ac­cen­tu­ated with sub­tle fur­ni­ture gives a com­plete look. The polyg­o­nal forms used in the ceil­ing un­der­line a re­call value cre­ated for the brand. They serve to be el­e­ments of in­ter­est which draw at­ten­tion and have a sub­con­scious role to play in cre­at­ing mem­o­ries of ex­pe­ri­ence for the cus­tomer. A de­sign lan­guage is thereby cre­ated and the chairs un­der­neath the ceil­ing also follow a con­ti­nu­ity in style with their polyg­o­nal forms. The House Bank con­cept is so for­mu­lated that it presents it­self as a model which can

be repli­cated in var­i­ous branches of the bank ir­re­spec­tive of their ge­og­ra­phy. “The chal­lenge was to cre­ate a new branch con­cept that has to be­come a real com­pet­i­tive and brand­ing tool able to be flex­i­ble and mod­u­lar, adapt­able to dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions and

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