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FASH 49: Store Design

Posted in Store Design by Arcadia on January 31, 2013

Last week in class the lecture was on Store Design, and why it’s so important to a store’s brand identity or the image they wish to project.  I know the lecture took the whole three-hour class time, and I hope I didn’t bore too many of you, but once you see a store design done really well, then you understand it’s importance.

Such as this picture.  When I saw this, I immediately thought, “Now that makes a statement!”


These individual shadow boxes would be fun to dress!

(image via pinterest)

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JCrew installed at Lane Crawford

Posted in Fashion 49, Inspiration, Retail News, Store Design by Arcadia on October 29, 2012

I recently started a Tumblr blog- nothing fancy, just a place to post random images I like (as if pinterest wasn’t enough!).  It’s called The Fashion Teacher  – Tumblr makes you sign up for an account when you want to follow others – hence why I have one.  I follow a bunch of fashion blogs on various sites, and can spend the greater part of a morning browsing through all of them.  JCrew is one of the sites I follow, which is how I came across this cool story on the displays they did for their new store within the Lane Crawford Department store in Beijing and Hong Kong:

To celebrate our opening in Hong Kong and Beijing at specialty store Lane Crawford,
our store design team whipped up these whimsical illustrations that depict a J.Crew-themed
skyline inspired by our Manhattan flagships.


For the visual displays that appear inside specialty shop Lane Crawford, our head of creative services, Ruth, was inspired by a toile-style wallpaper she’d first seen inside the historic building at 50 Hudson Street (now the J.Crew Ludlow Shop) in New York’s Tribeca neighborhood. From there, the design team riffed on the idea and decided to create a life-size cityscape inspired by J.Crew flagships throughout Manhattan to serve as a fanciful backdrop for the clothing on display.



The store design team, which includes Brandon and his assistant, Ellie, created the initial miniature renderings (which remind us of the dioramas we created in grade school) using reference images of the storefronts and architectural blueprints. Brandon and Ellie then turned their workspace into an artist’s studio, spending several weeks filling in the illustrations—which were anywhere from 6 to 9½ feet tall—by hand, using watercolor paint.



As part of the display, Ellie collaborated with artist Rebekah Maysles to create spot illustrations of various plants and animals one may encounter in Manhattan, including mice. (“But cute ones!” Ellie insisted.)



Ruth, Brandon and Ellie traveled to Hong Kong in advance of the opening of J.Crew at Lane Crawford to install the larger-than-life displays, which were shipped over in gigantic crates, to outfit the 2,700-square-foot retail space. The team worked through the night to ensure the display was properly placed to create a playful cityscape effect reminiscent of the Manhattan skyline. 

(all images and text via jcrew.tumblr.com)

H+M’s floor plan

Posted in Store Design by Arcadia on December 4, 2011

The December 2011 issue of Lucky magazine features this one page article.  I feature it here because it somewhat relates to what I posted earlier on Planograms and it also tells on some of the secrets that merchandisers use to entice shoppers.  Instead of trying to paraphrase the whole article I scanned it here:


Posted in Store Design by Arcadia on December 4, 2011

Planograms – learn this term!  I’ve been wanting to do a post on planograms for a long time now, but for some reason it kept slipping my mind.  I’ve been feeling incredibly guilty and foolish for not covering this topic in-depth in class.  EVERY visual merchandiser should know what planograms are and how important they are in our line of work.

Planograms are a visual tool retailers use to show in detail where everything will go.  It’s the diagram or layout of the selling floor. They can be simple or very complex.  They can be done by a hand-sketch or with a software program (the most common, nowadays).  Sometimes they are even provided to the retailer by the vendor.  They show you exactly how they want a wall, for instance, to be merchandised.  If you are a retailer who does not use planograms then make this your New Year’s resolution!

Planograms are effective because:

  • You have better control of inventory
  • Your staff knows where and how to replenish merchandise
  • You can visually layout merchandise in a way that’s easier for the customer
  • You can plan your product adjacencies
  • Selling space isn’t wasted

Some retailers may already be using something of the sort and just didn’t know the technical name for it, but nonetheless all merchandisers know the importance of planograms.  Chain stores use them for consistency throughout their stores and independent stores use them to maximize their selling space.

Besides giving you the picture of how the selling space will look they also give you the details on the number of facings and the depth.  The facings are the number of units for that particular item (or SKU) and the depth is the number of units stocked one behind the other.

Planograms are the lifeblood of grocery stores and big box chain stores, and looking at all of the merchandise they stock, you can see why.  Grocery stores use planograms to optimize shelf space and control inventory:

Clothing retailers tend to focus more on presentation and visual appeal when using planograms:

There are many software programs and services out there to help you learn more and get started if your store is big enough and you choose to subcontract this service:

Happy Planning!

Topshop in Chicago

Posted in Retail News, Store Design by Arcadia on October 6, 2010

According to WWD, Topshop will be opening up next year in Chicago.  They plan to open up on Michigan Avenue next to Filene’s Basement.  Apparently the store will be about 30,000 square feet!  I guess eventually they will make their way out West.  Sir Philip Green is supposedly looking for sites in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

Although the luxury retailers don’t want to admit it, I truly believe the fast fashion stores: H and M, Forever 21, Topshop; are giving them a run for their money!  These single-department stores occupy as much space as multi-department stores, and they are growing in an economy where everyone else is downsizing.  They have found a formula that is working!

Simple store design, basic mannequins, easy merchandising layout, a splash of color for visual interest and you have a fast fashion store.  Change out the merchandise and anyone of these could easily be a Target or Costco!

(image via: luxury on crack)

Solange Azagury-Partridge’s new London Store

Posted in Inspiration, Store Design by Arcadia on August 19, 2010

Most jewelry stores are dainty little boutiques.  Not British jewelry designer Solange Azagury-Partridge!  Keeping in line with her unique jewelry line, she follows a very similar aesthetic with her new flagship store she designed herself.

To the student who asked me if going monochromatic was too bland – I think this picture clearly shows it’s quite bold:

Check out this ceiling:

I love, love, love this display case:

This store itself is a visual display, the space has become the brand.  Most retailers don’t utilize this idea enough.

(images via: The Cool Hunter)

Ms. B’s Sweets

Posted in Just Genius, Store Design by Arcadia on April 23, 2010

I love store design done well.  This photo stopped me in my tracks.  It’s a cake shop in Hong Kong.  It’s located in the 13,ooo square foot, restaurant/club: SEVVA.  The huge chandelier was originally designed in the 1950s for the British embassy in Rome.  The owner Bonnie Gokson is legendary in the world of branding and fashion.

(photo via: The Cool Hunter)

Gap Store Turned Upside Down!

Posted in Store Design by Arcadia on March 9, 2010

How’s this for getting your attention, visually.  PSKF.com has a story on the Gap store in Vancouver, BC – which turned itself upside down in order to promote its Sprize (customer loyalty) program!  So far there is no Sprize program here in the US.  Read the full story at the link above, but I think photos tell more:

(photos via: psfk.com)

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Store Design – cont’d

Posted in Fashion 49, Store Design by Arcadia on February 19, 2010

So we’ve discussed what is store design and why it is so important.  Now let’s look at how it all comes together.  You’ve fond the spot of where you wish to open your store but how do you turn your dream location into your ideal store.  Like all construction you begin with the architect or a designer.  This individual will work with the store owner in coming with a concept fitting to the owner’s ideas.  I wouldn’t just pick any random person out of the phone book.  I would look around first at other stores and research who did want.  It’s no different from hiring an architect to design your dream home, like residential design, architects in commercial work also have a signature style.

Be prepared with as much information as possible to give to your designer, especially in regards to what kind of merchandise will be sold!  You wouldn’t exactly want an architect to design a store interior with lots of sharp, square, pointy, edges in a monochromatic color scheme if you are selling children clothes and toys!

Don’t forget to discuss the forgotten area:  stockrooms, dressing rooms, office space, and the cash register. So often we focus on the “outside look” of the store we forget about the inner workings.  These areas are your store’s backbone and you need to make sure you allocate space for them.  I had a client once who was so focused on her merchandise and fixtures she forgot to carve out a space for the cash wrap area.  Since it was a high-end home furnishings store I assumed she was going to use her office desk to make the sales transaction.  That was not what she had in mind, she had wanted an actual cash wrap area, but had failed to tell me to put it in the design.  I too take responsibility for not asking.  A lesson learned for both of us!

Based on the store design alone, can you name this store?

The Process

  • The architect prepares the concepts or ideas for the owner to approve or change
  • Once the concept has been approved the architect will start working with you on floor plans, layout, timelines, and budget
  • The architect may also suggest building contractors, and help oversee the whole project
  • Some stores have an in-house team that does all the designing and building and some stores hire outside consultants

It doesn’t take a whole lot of money to have a good design.  Some of the most creative spaces had very limited budgets.  Resources and imagination come into play, which is why we chose this field in the first place!  Independent stores can certainly take more risks than chain and department stores. Remember the main purpose of store design is to showcase the merchandise!

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VMSD – Class Act

Posted in Store Design by Arcadia on February 19, 2010

Here’s an interesting article I found at VMSD (Visual Merchandising Store Design) by Paul Lechleiter of FRCH Design Worldwide and Brian Davies, Associate Professor of University of Cincinnati – College of Design and Architecture.  The article focuses on their partnership with the University of Cincinnati.  They taught a retail design course to the students in the Winter semester of 2009:

“We partnered with the University of Cincinnati to teach a retail design studio this past winter to design students in their fourth year of a five-year program. The design focus was on developing retail brand strategies and prototype retail environments. We wanted to pick our students’ brains while sharing our creative process in an effort to engage in a new level of unrestricted exploration and perspective.”

They discovered three things:

  1. It’s good to disagree
  2. Their retail experiences are their own
  3. More than just a store.

Click on the link above to read the complete article.  I’m glad to see working professionals educating the next generation by utilizing their talents, because they have so much to offer.

(image of FRCH via WSJ)

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