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If you’re anything like us, you probably consider yourself somewhat of a Target connoisseur. After all, given the amount of time we spend pursuing the aisles, it’s only fitting that we consider ourselves as one. But even us regulars find that we’re constantly surprised by the treasures that lurk within the shelves. After all, shopping at Target is built on the discovery factor.

I recently had the opportunity to make my way over to Target HQ for a behind-the-scenes peek at how the mega-retailer operates. I got a full tour of the stunning campus in Minneapolis, met with product designers in the painting studio, and even got a look inside its dedicated 3-D printing lab. Suffice it to say, I managed to snag some fascinating tidbits about the retailer.

Here’s what I learned:

There are hidden meanings behind the products

There is a great deal of thought and intention placed on the design of the products. Threshold’s reversible toile placemat features a scenic winter landscape that was inspired by vintage postcards found in antique shops.

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Opalhouse’s eclectically colorful Holiday collection boasts a series of pieces inspired by the designers’ sourcing trip to Europe. The orange and red bottle brush trees—in addition to the boldly saturated votives and candlesticks holders—were crafted to emulate similar pieces spotted in Amsterdam’s Christmas market.

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New this year, Target launched a personalized gift station featuring retro Christmas sacks, inspired by items the team spotted during their European travels. The burlap sacks can be customized and make for the ultimate decor under the tree.

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An in-house illustrator creates bespoke designs

Illustrator Kate Worum is the mastermind behind many of the pieces you’ve come across in the aisles of Target and her whimsical designs never cease to amaze us. Worum took her signature style to Opalhouse’s recent collection to create a line of everyday essentials bearing a charming city winterscape, which features mini odes to her childhood and holiday experiences.

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Joanna Gaines plays favorites

Out of the vast array of ultra-cool pieces in Gaines’s Hearth & Hand with Magnolia collection, apparently, this festive napkin ring greenery set is one of her favorites. We love the look of the festive green accessory when paired with this delicately embroidered napkin. *Immediately adds 12 to cart.* 

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You can see the pieces in your home before you buy them

Shoppers can preview pieces in their own home through a live augmented reality functionality available on the Target app. The scaled, 3-D version of each piece of furniture will allow users to visualize specific pieces in their home, resulting in a more thorough shopping experience.

“We’ve elevated the digital shopping experience with tools like See It In Your Space, which allows guests to virtually ‘try on’ bigger items—like Christmas trees or furniture—before purchasing,” says Jill Sando, senior vice president of merchandising at Target.

It has testing labs, and scientific experiments are the norm

At Target’s designated 3-D printing lab, the team creates replicas of the human foot to test the ergonomics and comfort of the shoes the retailer carries. It has a whole slew of them, ranging in an assortment of sizes to cater to the retailer’s diverse array of shoppers.

A few doors down, you’ll find a lab where an actual scientist tests out the brand’s new Smartly line of household essentials—focusing on characteristics such as the viscosity of the dish soaps and experimenting with the scents of the cleaning supplies.

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