I Do Windows

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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Ted Baker

Posted in Store Study Assignment by Arcadia on February 24, 2011

This week’s store study assignment is by Lisa G.

Ted Baker, Union Square– San Francisco, CA

What does the store design tell you about the retailer?

Overall this store is not that big and they only carry a small selection of each size. The store is very inviting and there are a lot of bright colors throughout the store especially when focusing on the clothing. From the store’s layout and clothing selection I would say it caters to somebody with a more European taste for clothing and somebody who is a little bit edgy and willing to try a look that might be outside the box.

Describe the store’s target customer?

I would say the target customer is somebody in their 30s who can afford to dress nicely but yet still not spend an exuberant amount of money. Their target customer is definitely into fashion and wants to select clothing that is going to get them noticed.

Is the merchandise displayed in an accessible manner for the customer?

Overall I would say the merchandise is displayed in an acceptable manner but as I stated above the store is kind of small. With that said I think they have too much clothing in the store. They have a lot of racks throughout the store so it makes it hard to move around. I would eliminate some of the clothing racks.

Is it stocked pile or more minimalist?

The store is more minimalist and there is no stock piling. There are a few pieces laid out on a table for show but overall there are just clothing racks throughout the entire store.

Do the fixtures suit the store environment?

This store does not have a lot of fixtures b/c there isn’t that much space. The fixtures that they do have, do fit the environment. I like the large light structure in the middle of the store. ( see photo )

Does the lighting highlight the merchandise?

Yes, the lighting highlights the merchandise. The lighting in this store is very bright and enhances the clothing since a lot of the clothing is in bright colors. The lighting is especially beneficial in the dressing rooms. The dressing rooms at this store are huge and good lightning makes it that much easier for you to see what you are actually trying on.

How is color used in the store?

The clothing in this store is very colorful. They do not keep to the black, white and gray tones. The clothing that was out today consisted of reds, blues, bright pinks and a few black and white items.  I would say besides that they do not use that much coloring. The interior walls are a brown/ wood coloring.

Are the windows pleasing and drawing you into the store?

The windows are very simple since they are having a 60% off sale. When I look at the mannequins in the window I am not drawn to the store based upon what they are wearing but more so that there is a 60% off sale happening. One window display advertised their new collection and another window displayed let the public know about the sale. For the Sale window I like how the word Sale was written across the window. For the new collection window I think it is kind of boring and it wouldn’t grab my attention and draw me into the store.

If you could make changes in the store what would they be?

1. I would change their new collection window display to something exciting that is going to draw people into the store. First off they have 4 models and I know in class we learned to have an odd number of mannequins. Second, there is no exciting focus point in this window display. When I look at this window my eye goes directly to the center which is a pile of purses. I would maybe do some theme around their new clothing line. They should think about who is going to be purchasing their new collection and do a window that targets those customers.

2. I would remove some of the racks in the store and consider building shelving into the wall so they can fold some merchandise and place it on shelves. There is not much space to walk around in this store and all the racks on the floor make it even more difficult. I thought the men’s section was way too crowded.

Thanks Lisa for a great assignment!

(image above via: Lisa G.)


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)


Posted in Store Study Assignment by Arcadia on May 17, 2010

Another student’s Store Study Assignment:

By Divya V.

What does the store design tell you about the retailer?

Very high-end gift store.  One of the first retail stores in San Francisco.  Originally a frame shop converted into a premium gift store.  Huge tourist attraction now – shops history brings a lot of people here.  Reminded me of Liberty of London store (a huge store on Central London’s Oxford St., very popular among the rich and famous, and the tourist alike).

Describe the store’s target customer?

High-end Bay Area residents.  Tourists from all over the world.

Is the merchandise displayed in an accessible manner for the customer?

Yes, displayed beautifully all around the store.  It’s like walking in an overcrowded posh mansion of some rich fella.

Is it stock piled or more minimalist?

Neither and both.  Mostly the merchandise is displayed in a beautiful manner.  Most areas are crowded – more than visual merchandising, interior decorating techniques have been used.

Do the fixtures suit the store environment?

Yes.  Both linear and non linear.  A lot of shelves, tables, and cabinets are used throughout the store.

Is the ambience fitting for the store’s image?

Yes.  High-end store so it is purposely meant to look that way.  Even the sales persons wear suits and neckties!

Does the light highlight the merchandise?

Yes, the store is pretty well-lit and in many places mood lighting is used.

How is color used in the store?

Most places are white

Are the windows pleasing and drawing you into the store?

Windows alone may be not.  The mast lag above the store is pretty eye-catching though.  From outside the store looks like any other big store.  Easy to find on the street yet if I weren’t looking for it I would have walked past it.

If you could make any changes in the store what would they be?

Perhaps make the windows more attractive and bring some element of the history of the sore in the display itself.

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)

Heritage 1981

Posted in Fashion 49, Store Study Assignment by Arcadia on February 23, 2010

I’ve been so impressed with some of the Store Study assignments my students have been turning in, I’ve decided I would begin to post some of their findings:

By: Jen C. – Heritage 1981 store – Concord, CA

What does the store design tell you about the retailer?

The store design tell you that the retailer is inspired by vintage style and very into Americana.  They cater to a very specific group of young adults, but the environment makes that group anxious to come back for more.

Describe the store’s target customer?

The store’s target customer is both men and women in their 20s and 30s, who appreciate both current trends and vintage style.

Is the merchandise displayed in an accessible manner for the customer?

For the most part, yes.  However, a lot of the racks are jam-packed with merchandise (the thick wooden hangers, although very pretty, don’t help the space issue much) and some of the shelves holding folded clothing were much too high for this 5’3″ girl to reach unless I was rocking some stilettos.  I guess next time I’ll come prepared.

Is it stock piled minimalist?

Stock piled.  Very, very stock piled.  However, that is to be expect from a store whose parent company is Forever 21.

Do the fixtures suit the store environment?

The fixtures definitely suit the store environment.  It’s a mixture of the expected, such as metal racks and wooden shelving, and the unexpected, such as vintage suitcases on the floor overflowing with scarves and belts.

Is the ambience fitting for the store’s image?

The ambience is very fitting for the store’s image.  They decorated with old suitcases, antique books, quirky mannequin heads, offbeat lamps, and vintage photo frames, full of modern people portraying the lifestyle of their target customer (or the lifestyle they want).  Every aspect of the store seemed to be such a quirky mix of old and new.

Does the lighting highlight the merchandise?

Overall, the store has minimal lighting and is pretty dark in most areas.  The displays throughout the store, however are well-lit with task lighting.

How is color used in the store?

The store is painted mostly dark blue, with wooden fixtures and flooring, and a few accent walls in bright orange with white trim.

Are the windows pleasing and drawing you into the store?

Honestly, I never would have entered this store in the first place if it wasn’t for their amazing windows.  There are window displays on either side of the entrance which are typical and contain three mannequins each (one for women, the other for men) with an American flag as the backdrop to each.  There are two ways to enter the store, with the entry ways divided by a third display in which mannequins are set on top of old books.  On the other side of each entry way is another display and behind the glass are red, white, and blue buttons (think “Vote for Obama!” versus “Oh crap, my sweater is missing a button”), hundreds and hundreds of buttons, filling the entire window floor to ceiling.  I can’t even explain how awesome it is.

If you could make changes in the store, what would they be?

The only thing I would change about the store is how much they pack on each rack, much like their parent store Forever 21.  although it’s a lot cleaner at Heritage 1981 than Forever 21, it’s still difficult to shop with the racks as full as they are.

Thanks Jennifer for turning in a great assignment this week.  Job well done!

Anthropologie, a store like no other

Posted in Nonpareil Windows by Arcadia on February 19, 2010

I have given my students a Store Study assignment. They are to visit various establishments and answer questions based on the principles of visual merchandising.  This assignment is to be turned in weekly.  Anthropologie is one of those stores where many of my students have chosen to complete this assignment.  So many, that I have imposed a moratorium on that store!  Only for the sake of this assignment.

But I can understand why so many of my students are drawn to it.  It is beautiful work done well.  I am always inspired by the work of their display artists.  Everything forms a cohesive story: the store design, merchandise, even the catalogs, it’s no wonder they have such a devoted loyal following of design aficionados who love the store just for the store alone.  That is what every retailer wants.

I would encourage you to take a stroll through one of their establishments if you get a chance.  They are a classic example of what you can do with a little money and a lot imagination!

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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