Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Assignment 4, read and review

For this assignment, we were asked to take a book and a journal from the last assignment and write a summary of the author's ideas in relation to our topic, for me this is retail design and if there is a way designers can trigger a response to lead people straight to a specific section or just in general buy more in the store.

I decided to choose the book 'Retail Design' by Otto Riewoldt as I found it the most interesting read out of the six or so I chose. It is made up of a compilation of various companies, retail projects, including showrooms, boutiques, markets and department stores. Basically the author goes through each one and explains the design of the store layout and why they have done what they have and I have chosen 2 examples out of this book to compare. One is 'Zero Lustrum Pukeberg' and the other 'Hushush'. Then the article I chose is from the Design Week journal which is about the chemist Boots and their ideas to improve business.

The Zero Lustrum Pukeberg
The author has looked into a whole load of retail companies/business' and has looked into their designs and is informing us why they designed the way they did. In this shop in Stockholm, Sweden three established Swedish brands selling glass, lighting and furnishings, collaborated to create a sales and display outlet in Stockholm’s city centre. 

"The goal was to make the three companies really visible, to make the companies more available to the public. Their concept was to draw people inside by creating a progression, for the ‘soft’ home interior pieces up front to the ‘industrial’ bookshelves at the back." Rupert Gardner, interior designer.

The company designed two completely contrasting types of wall design ensure that the route consumers follow to reach the distant areas is constantly interesting. On the left hand side – striking illuminated glass products are set in front of a wall made of Nordic pine with horizontal relief pattern and on the opposite side is a long, back lit wall of light with metal boards which changes colour every fifteen minutes. This is a really exciting design idea, the horizontal lines on the wall deliberately lead the customer in through the shop, and involving lights that change colour, plus varying contrasting materials is a central part to the overall impression and the effective way visitors are led through the building. This design is a flexible one, with sliding walls and mobile glass partitions that can be easily moved and repositioned to allow the space to be utilized and arranged in different ways is an attractive and a very adaptable feature. Sandstone, mosaics, bare concrete and untreated wood were used, together with the sculpted ceiling with its many different light sources creates a perfect setting for the spectacle of beautiful objects being displayed.

This is quite different to the store design by Harry Allen & Associates of 'Hushush' who  developed a suitable retail setting for a new brand collection. Hushush is a range of 'basic' fashions, and they wanted to create a distinctive impact from the outset through its architectural presentation. 

"The challenge to provide a backdrop for a brand of basic clothing has never been met with a successful solution. No matter how hard designers have tried to be ‘basic’ they cannot help styling the concept. But ‘basic’ is not a style, it is a reality. And the consumers are ready to accept reality. Forget ergonomics and tasteful styling. Like a minimalistic sculpture, the concept will focus on materials and geometry." Harry Allen, interior designer.

The Hushush store layout is designed on a basic model of large scale wall sections forming a diagonal grid pattern on the floor. These wall sections fulfil all the necessary functions, such as storage, merchandise display areas, cash desks, changing rooms and signposting system in one. There are different surface materials appointed to different product groups to guide customers through the modules, of which there are eleven altogether, each around one metre deep and up to eighteen metres long. Varying in heights, gaps and open shelf or hanging systems allows the customers to see through from one area into another. This has been a very cleverly thought out design, and I like the way there is a bit of alteration in the aspects used to create a funky yet very sleek, stylish and architecturally sound design. The designers don't deny that they used the idea of the rigid lengthways division borrowed from the standard supermarket design. In their eyes this proves what they proclaim as their honesty in presenting basic branded fashions. What they have done is they have taken something ordinary and transform it into something out of the ordinary, something that is a normal situation but now unfolds having surprising spacial qualities – while at the same time remaining what retail design must primarily be, that is, a vehicle for displaying merchandise and not self-regarding an end itself.

The article, from the Design Week journal's main purpose is to inform customers of the proposed changes to packaging and store design in Boots the chemist to help make the store an easier layout for customers to follow and to ultimately improve the amount of business. The author's key question is, do the new proposed ideas help to guide customers through the store, does the new packaging design boost the sales of products, and does the clearer layout of the store make many customers less confused and more likely to shop in this store. Boot's advertising agency 'Mother' and design groups Saturday and Household both have contributed to the new store's look and feel. One visible development in particular is the prominent departmental signage, all rendered in a specific typeface, AG Bookman Rounded, which is easily recognisable and creates a feeling of familiarity which is attractive to customers. Jon Turner, a creative designer, is keen that the customers find it easy to locate where exactly in the store the checkout is for paying, as before apparently it had been a little confusing. Scott Billings, the author of this article, has a lot of evidence and has done his research on what it is exactly that Boots' are doing. I imagine that he has spoke to someone senior in the company to find out all the names of people or design groups that are involved in this whole operation. An example of this is Lippa Pearce, she has developed packs for a cough relief range, employing a generic style of medicine sector. This is then being adopted by Boot's internal team to produce a generic style for pain relief packs.

I personally think this is an excellent idea, especially if the whole purpose is to attract more customers. By creating a generic style it then becomes easily recognisable and will soon become associated with both Boots and it's purpose (pain relief) which customers identify with because this could lead to the early stages of brand recognition and brand loyalty.
Boots also strategically open new stores earlier in the year to maximise the spending peak on the run up to Christmas. This is another good marketing technique, which will also help with maximising sales. 

Retail design is not just about the visual layout of store and the pretty packaged products but also the marketing business side as well. Boots recognised they had been massively overpriced in the past, a premium of 25% to the market was put in place. The Chief Executive of Boots, Richard Baker managed to get it lower to 10% but that was still quite expensive. I would personally like to understand the business side of the company better. I would look into why Boots set prices so high, because its obvious they were suffering because of it, and due to the store being a confusing layout and more expensive (according to the property director Tony Vashista) this also didn't help sales. Boots' have gone through many changes to improve business. They have involved all the right specialists in certain areas to make the best job, one for example, is they involved x-ray photographer Nick Veasey to capture images of the product ingredients to ensure what they were selling was genuine.

These two retail designs are quite different, the Zero Lustrum one being very organic and sustainable using planks of timber along a wall, and soft lighting creating a warm atmosphere. Whereas the Hushush have used bare concrete and spotlights which is a completely different environment, and has a cold feel to it. Both are displaying merchandise, but one is selling glass accessories, furnishings and lighting which is all very homely items which is why an atmosphere of perhaps cosiness is created. Whereas the other is displaying a new line of 'basic' clothing, so the design is going to be quite sleek, contemporary and minimal. The layout and the way the designers have designed the route throughout the store is different yet has similar qualities, for example, changing the materials, lighting and texture of the the walls in the first store is an easy pathway which the eye naturally leads you through, whereas the second one is almost laid out like obstacles, yet cleverly positioned with specific gaps and heights so that the designer is leading the visitor through the store in the ideal route they want. This could be so that the visitor has a chance to look round the entire shop before coming to the checkout, or leading them straight by certain items on offer, or through a path that makes them want to buy everything as it is displayed in such way to make them feel they need it.
What is different between these two and the Boots though, is that their key focus was to boost sales, which in no doubt is key to these two as well, but their primary focus was to attract customers into the store and focused on how exactly the visitors were going to be led through the store and respond  positively to the design. Boot's did want to attract customers in by improving similar techniques, but were more concerned about the money and how much business they were doing and changing their packaging and signage which is a completely different thing. The first two very much have a set image that they are not changing, whereas Boot's want to change theirs slightly for improvement.

I think to understand fully what these designers are doing, is to do a couple of experiments to perhaps get the best results and see if what they propose is in fact true. For example, having Boots the way it was and getting statistics of on average how many customers come in each day, how they interact with the space, i.e what route they take through the store, and the number of sales/how much profit they’re making, and comparing what that was to what is it once they have improved the store layout, and changed the packaging to see if a significant change has been made. Was all this worth it? I personally think yes because it makes a whole lot of sense to me why they did everything they did, and if companies are running into the ground or stuck in a rut, they need to re-evaluate and perhaps it is time that they changed their image, but to fully know we would have to experiment that or get the results if it has already been done! With the likes of the two stores described in the book, I would say it is quite psychologically based, which is another factor I would research into more. I would be more interested to see if what the author was proposing on how the visitors react actually was true, and they did respond with the environment the way the designer intended. And if they didn’t, why not? And is it necessarily a bad thing?  These are all interesting points to raise and without evidence at hand we’ll not know.. But it is interesting to think, that is what designers are doing worth it? Or is it just an ‘in theory’ scenario it should work? I’m going to strongly suggest that it is definitely worth it, yes because I’m a designer, but also because they have done enough evidence into the psychology of people to know that this is how our brains work, and what we respond positively to! It is the way God made us, and it's what we like.


Billings, S. (2005). A profit-building prescription. Design Week; (Vol. 20 Issue 18), p11-11

Riewoldt, O. (2000). Retail Design, London: Laurence King.

          - Zero Lustrum Pukeberg, Rupert Gardner Design
          - Hushush, Harry Allen & Associates

The finished furniture...

Here is the video we played at the start of our presentation. To make you feel and aware the damage and abuse chairs and furniture get, to show you who we are, what we do and the processes we went through to make the furniture.

So today we presented our furniture project, what a relief! It has felt like this project has gone on forever.. there certainly has been times when this project did not go as planned, and working in a group is always testing but we did the best that we could and definitely learnt a lot throughout, here is a few images from our design.. I will post up the sheets when I can separate the indesign sheets and save them as singular pdf files! Throughout the project we have learned many things, we learnt plenty about joints and how they work. We used mostly dowel joints in our work, but also used a mitre and micanse joint in our last piece, the chair/bench. Our project was about finding what old unwanted furniture and trying to reuse it in a quirky humorous way, but also finding the kind of furniture we wanted proved harder than we first thought. Not only finding the kind of thing we wanted but the hardest thing was learning about the materials and realising what we could and couldn't do and many things being restricted because the wood wasn't suitable. The whole point of our project was not to produce beautiful perfect pieces of furniture, but to inspire others to want to create similar pieces out of the old scraps or broken furniture they don't want any more. Keeping that character and nostalgia of the old wood exposed has proved a success on the chair/bench. We were just told today that many just to encase the old characteristics of wood but always seem to mask it. Where we have it fully exposed, and we have sanded away certain parts where we have done the joints to add a nice wee stylish detail. It also shows the raw fresh clean pine underneath - what it used to be like, compared to now after years of use and damage. So hopefully you will be inspired at looking some of our items!

Here is the coffee table in use, i posted the image of this one on its own in previous post. (see below)

coffee table used in a living room

CAD drawings of coffee table

stool used in a kitchen situation
final outcome. chair/bench

here is it being used in a gallery space

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

_the final countdown

Ok so now we are about to enter into the final week of our furniture project. It's rounding up nicely so far... However the snow here has been a slight spanner in the works so last week we couldn't get into the workshop, but we carried on doing our presentation sheets, as well as playing in the snow (obviously - how couldn't you? This is possibly the heaviest snowfall I've ever seen in Scotland!!) The last time I remember snow like this was when I lived in Connecticut, USA in 1997! Anyway enough of snow talk...

So the project is coming to an end, the idea of our company 'Find It, Fix It' is that we want to find unwanted furniture and recycle, reuse it to create a more stylish, funky, humorous piece of furniture. So altogether we have had a lot of fun finding furniture, the most amazing thing I've found is actually getting into the character of it and actually genuinely feeling sorry for abandoned furniture. I mean just look at this..

So the idea I am crazy about and it would be cool to carry it on. The concept part of this whole idea is pretty simple, and messing about with your sketchbook at hand or using photoshop is one thing, but it's quite another actually working with the materials you have and dealing with the issues they create. There are many - trust me!! For example we're using an old tabletop found in a church and it has a slight bend in the wood which hasn’t made it easy to construct a joint. I think that’s what has been interesting about the project for me, is dealing with the issues that arise and solving the problem to make it work!

Anyways i’ll post some photos of us working in the workshop so you can see what we’re up to...

deliberate lookalike squint stool we made first - photoshop cutout
coffee table we made - photoshop cutout

sanding the parts to strengthen mitre joint
chiselling part of chair to set wood planks into
chiselling part of the wood back to original state
the result during sanding state