I <3 Pet Store Signage

An impromptu stop at my local Pet Supply Plus reminded me of how much I love simple graphics. And pet stores, with their categorization by pet type is a no-brainer for fun icon driven way finding graphics. Other chains such as Petsmart and PetCo are just as adept at this. It makes shopping for pet supplies, and pets for that matter, more fun in my opinion.

In PSP they use simple one color (plus white) graphics with pet icons and simple copy such as “CAT”. In a world with overwrought design direction it’s refreshing to see something so simple make it to retail, creating a pool of calm in what would otherwise be a visually clamorous environment.

Breathe.

Ahh…

The store also had a cool community themed endcap, which presumably is customized based on each store location. DO THIS IN YOUR STORE!!! Our research shows that people want a better sense of community in their lives. This endcap is just an example. Do what is right for your store and your community…a coffee desk, amp’d up bulletin board, in-line display…inside…outside…but do something to break away from the big-box photocopy mode.

Lastly I’ll pick on all retailers for a minute. There was a neat Kurgo display that obviously someone spent a lot of great effort and money on, only to be marred by a bunch of repetitive paper call outs on the scanner plates. I don’t know what the answer is but please why do we have to do this. Maybe an extruded price strip across all the hooks and alternate between price and a “new” callout. Maybe don’t use white on the callouts, maybe black or chocolate to match in store, or blue or orange to match the brand. This is 100% just me though and my need for organization and simplicity. So don’t get too worked up over it.

The Kurgo display was pretty rad though with its subtle topographical easter egg on its shroud that keen eyes will delight in discovering. I’d love to find out how they did that (both made it and got it past the bean counters).

I love chain pet stores as a source of inspiration, especially for graphic design and way finding. Think about including them in your pool of resources for inspiration on your next brand or retail project.

And you can always pick up some food for your furry friend while you’re at it.

-Chris


Chris Weigand is a retail experience expert, lover of simple design solutions, and a cat person. His views are his own and he receives no compensation for give products, brands and retailers a shout out. Where he and his firm do get compensation is from bring awesome retail solutions to you. Contact Chris today to discuss your needs – store interior, store within a store, pop up, displays, fixtures….he and his team can help your brand create delightfully awesome retail experiences. 330-858-8926 or chris@chrisweiganddesign.com

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Capabilities

 

CWD One PagerComputers and software are important tools for the work that we do. We model the things we design using computer aided design (CAD) software and produce renderings, sometimes photorealistic ones that are used to explain how something will look before it is built.

This past December we invested in a new liquid cooled PC based APEX4 machine from Boxx computers so that we could start running AutoDesk software. The software we’re running is 3ds Max which allows us to model up displays, fixtures and environments, map them and then create realistic renderings and animations for our clients. Adding this second machine and software, my wife and fellow designer Christine will now be able to help out when we need the extra capacity during busy times, or for projects that are best run on this system. This will free me up to focus on strategy, more involved projects and our business and clients more closely.

Our expertise is retail strategy and design, but to accompany this focus we’ve built a whole network of resources and capabilities that we can bring to bear, making life easier for our clients. We partner with other designers to bring additional perspective and resources. We have a vast network of manufacturers that can make anything we design, whether it’s one piece or a thousand. And we have all sorts of professionals we team up with for services such as engineering, photography, graphic design and copy writing. By bringing all of this together into one spot, our clients don’t have to manage everything themselves and they get just one bill in the mail. This is critical when you’re trying to grow your business today.

Here’s a recap of what we do:

  • retail strategy and design
  • research and trends
  • graphic design
  • interior design
  • product engineering
  • industrial design
  • project mangement
  • space planning
  • store planning / call center / reorder services
  • branding
  • copy writing
  • photography
  • interactive kiosk design and sourcing
  • global sourcing
  • packaging design
  • graphic visualization
  • presentation creation

At the top of this article is a photo of the latest marketing piece we created to share our new hardware news. We plan on rolling out more of these throughout the year to share with our clients and prospective clients. There will be a slight change in our own branding, moving away from the candy color marketing to more lifestyle imagery with simple single color branding, but with our good old logo form.

Also we’ll take some time to delve into each of the above services to explain more about what they mean and how we do them.

-Chris


 

Chris Weigand is an industrial designer and retail consultant. His handy work may be found in over thirty-thousand retail doors across the world. Whether your product is new to retail for you’re in thirty-thousand doors, he and his team can help you out, and make your life easier. Contact him at 330-858-8926 or chris@chrisweiganddesign.com today.

2017 NAIAS Recap

MORE THAN CARS

Basic RGB

As has become tradition I drove up to Detroit for the North American International Auto Show last week. I really like cars so you don’t have to twist my arm to go to a car show. But I also take the opportunity to look at all the awesome pavilions, displays and design details throughout the show. And obviously the cars themselves have a lot of cool details as well.

As a courtesy to our clients, we put together a trend deck, which is basically several sheets summarizing the things seen at the show.

Color-wise, copper and electric blue were the hot colors. Copper was being used for detailing interiors, and coating a few exteriors as well. There were also copper details in the information desk environments such as mirror finish copper light fixtures, and laminate trim details. On the cars, copper could be seen in linear forms evocative of copper wiring in electric motors.

Speaking of electricity, electric cars are all the rage as manufacturers tool up for the forthcoming consumer demand for high mileage and eco-friendly transportation. Blue is the color of electric cars. Every car charger, electric car, and electric concept seemingly had an homage to the color blue, utilizing subtle and not so subtle uses of the color in paint, and lighting.

Museum quality displays were common too, as consumers focus more on one of kind features, and almost cottage like manufacturing vibes. Mazda played this up quite a bit with tools and material proudly displayed, evoking the idea that maybe these cars are hand built or at least hand designed out of raw materials and apprenticed craftsmanship.

There was plenty to see throughout the show, and while some was carryover, even those pavilions were freshened up for 2017.

Contact us if you’d like to learn more about what we saw at the show. Also if you’d like to accompany us to a future Detroit Auto Show or other event, let us know. We’d be happy to make arrangements to walk the show with you and exchange thoughts.

-Chris

Basic RGB


Chris Weigand is an industrial designer and president of Chris Weigand Design, LLC a retail strategy and design consultancy located in Peninsula, Ohio. When he’s not fawning over the latest car trends, he’s helping clients make kickass impressions at retail. Contact Chris at 330-858-8926 or chris@chrisweiganddesign.com

Why We Create Inspiration Boards

A lot of people (clients?) think designers turn a switch and crank out a creative solution in between trips to the Keurig. As great as that sounds the truth is creative problem solving, which is what design is, is anything but predictable and on demand. It’s a process that, in all honesty, designers are cycling through all the time; even when they’re not working on a specific project.

Creativity isn’t some bottomless well of rainbows, clay and iPhones. Designers need inspiration to couple with knowledge, skill and experience to create effective design solutions. I’m always looking at the world around me for inspiration. It’s like keeping a knife sharp. Staying inspired to create and solve.

There is a process to design. I like to start with a creative brief which outlines the task at hand, timing and deliverables. Next the team and I identify and research the brand, product and marketplace. At this time we look to trends and inspiration before we put pen to paper. Images, words and materials are arranged artfully on (typically virtual) “boards” that we reference throughout the design process. I liken it to cleansing your palate before a really good meal. Collecting information and then coupling that with trend and inspiration boards gets everyone in the right frame of mind to create a design solution. In fact we often include these boards in our final presentation so everyone understands what inspires the aesthetic and functional design details. It’s more about purposeful fact based design, and less about objective or personal preference. We never just throw stuff up on a wall.

I don’t know if there is a formal definition for any of the boards we create, but here is how I define them and how we use them, along with examples of boards we’ve created for clients.

Trend Board – whenever I travel I’m always looking at stores, buildings, products, displays, events; taking photos with my phone and collecting ideas. See enough of the same things in various places and you’re starting to see trends firsthand. I also look online at store websites to see seasonal collections, trend websites to see what they’re saying the latest trends are; anywhere we can get a pulse on society. And they may not always be images, products or colors. They could be social or shopping trends in which case we’ll capture that with an image of some sort.

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This trend board highlights the popularity of the color indigo that we were seeing at retail in the winter of 2014. Actually indigo is a timeless color choice and always a good option to at least consider for many projects.

Inspiration / Mood – These are the most fun because they can be virtually anything, and while they are somewhat subjective, they help inspire the designer to design. Pinterest and Google searches are great places to find inspirational images. As a designer I look to colors, textures, product design details, fashion, nature, architecture, global influences, essentially anything and everything to generate inspiration boards. These boards inspire and set the tone for the design. A project could have just one or a dozen plus boards, it just depends on the scope and how much reference material we’re drawn to.

Here is a collection of some of our favorite mood boards that we’ve created. Gathering this inspiration for a project is one of our favorite parts of being designers.

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A board with images of people helps set the tone for the project and get us in the right mindset. We can use this as a benchmark when evaluating concepts to see if they evoke these emotions.

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A mixture of materials, product, fashion and historical images makes for a great mood board.

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A board focused on how great black and charcoal make colors pop.

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These simple boards are some of the best in conveying an idea. Note the composition of the board isn’t happenstance either, it helps convey the mood or feel we’re trying to get across.

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We often like to have a theme to a board, such as “line” on this one. The all wood images are purposeful too, as the display in question we knew was going to feature this light wood tone.

Word Cloud – occasionally on larger or deeper projects we’ll collect words and create a word cloud to inspire us and keep us on task. These words help us define the problem and what success looks like. It’s created at the beginning and we use it at the end to weigh our design solutions against – to make sure we are on brand.

word-cloud

Words can be just as effective in setting the tone for a project. They are also helpful in judging a solution to see if it is on brand and effective.

Material Board – It’s good to have a sense of what materials will work with the brand or product we’re promoting at retail. We’ll also consider the materials of the surrounding space that we may not be able to control. A material board can be “high level” indicating general wood tones, paint colors, and materials such as glass and plastic. Or we might get very specific and call out actual laminate names and numbers or paint specs. The material board is created in concert with trend and inspiration boards; it might even be created after we’ve started the design process.

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A materials board for a snack bar project. It includes possible laminates, graphic colors, paint colors, and inspiration images that drove the color selection.

One last note, sometimes we even combine several of these into one board to help guide us through a project or tier the various concepts we know we’re going to work on. Below is an example of how we combined a word cloud with inspirational images to set the tone for a specific concept that was yet to be designed.

tiering concepts 02

There you have it, my quick overview of these fun design tools and why we use them. Where do you find inspiration? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks.

-Chris


Chris Weigand is president of Chris Weigand Design, LLC in Peninsula, Ohio. Gathering inspiration is one of his favorite parts of the design process. His love of nature, automobiles, art and architecture all manifest themselves in his designs. If you’d like to find out more about how Chris and his team can help inspire your next amazing design experience, visit the CWD website at http://www.chrisweiganddesign.com and contact him by phone at (330) 858-8926 or email at chris@chrisweiganddesign.com

You can visit the Chris Weigand Design Pinterest page by clicking here to start getting inspired today. Be sure to follow us.

Peg, Slat, Grid

We’re working on designing a whole new interior merchandising system for a national retailer this month. As I’m working on the design for their new fixtures I found myself revisiting a common question the retailers and brands have been asking since the dawn of modern retail design.

What is the best route to go when merchandising product on hooks – pegboard, stall wall or wire grid?

Over the course of twenty plus years of designing retail solutions, I don’t have an answer for you. Like most everything in life: it depends.

Here’s my take on these three ways to peg product in your store.

Pegboard

Usually made from masonite or hardboard, sometimes plastic, pegboard is likely one of my favorite ways to merchandising hanging product. The holes are usually 1″ x 1″ on center, and about 1/4″ in diameter. The board thickness is usually a 1/4″ as well.

Pegboard may be painted any color you want, or covered with a durable paper coating to make it look like wood grain, or your favorite pattern. You can even direct print right on the surface. Often time retailers will use perforated cover sheets of paper to color block in-line sections of gondolas. Target started this trend about ten years ago, and now it’s everywhere.

Pegboard is a great looking, great functioning solution that works great on endcaps, in-line and outposts. It’s not as common on power wings, but you certainly can use the material for that application. There are a ton of pegboard accessories available. The one inch centers can make merchandising a challenge, when trying to squeeze everything in.

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Pegboard Skinz from Panel Processing turn white pegboard into a signage opportunity.

Slat Wall

Slat wall is typically viewed as “old fashioned” by marketers, retailers and brands. Which is a shame because it’s so versatile. The slats are usually spaced 3″ – 4″ apart, and offer unlimited spacing left to right, unlike pegboard.

It used to be that all you could get was slat that looked yellowed when it came out of the box. These days though you’re limited only by your imagination. Typically made from MDF, modern slat wall slats may be milled in a variety of patterns and spacing. Taking it a step further, you can get slat wall that looks like old barn boards, brick or faux distress metal.

Slat wall is heavy and cumbersome so you usually only see it fastened to real walls, and not on gondolas too often. But it’s a fantastic solution, if you can convince the marketing and retail peeps that it’s no longer old fashioned.

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Barnwood slat wall from Dimensional Impact

Wire Grid

Go into any store and I bet you the power wings are all wire grid. It’s a ubiquitous way to peg these displays that’s worked for decades. Less common is wire grid merchandising in-line or on outposts, but it’s out there. We specified tons (literally) of wire grid for merchandising gift wrap and party goods when I worked corporate.

The grid wires are usually an inch on center. Wire grid is almost as good as slat wall for limitless merchandising left to right. You just have to look out for the vertical wires. They make hooks that are notched for the vertical wires, which helps in fine tuning merchandising.

The down side of wire is it’s not the most attractive thing in the world. You can powder coat it any color you want. One cool trick: put a backdrop of a contrasting color or an image behind the wire grid to snazz things up a bit.

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Wire grid can be fun to play around with, such as the curved shapes on this battery concept. (designed by Chris Weigand ~2003)

Parting Thoughts

There’s a good chance you’ll be dealing with legacy issues – not wanting to throw everything out and restart from scratch. So you may have two or more types of hanging merchandising systems to contend with. I don’t think it’s too big a deal if you mix and match. Often power wings will only come in wire grid, and pegboard is pretty standard for in-line gondolas. Merchandisers are good at keeping track of accessories throughout the store, so they’ll know where their stash of pegboard hooks is.

Regardless of which route you go, standard hooks and accessories are prevalent for each system. And there are common sizing standards for each system, so if you do have leftover accessories you can usually continue to find a spot to use them. You can even find some hooks that work in multiple systems, such as peg hooks that work on slat wall.

For me, I make my selection on a case by case basis. All three can be made to look incredible and all are functional.

I hope this little snippet overview gets you thinking about merchandising, and that it was helpful. Cheers!

-Chris

Chris Weigand is president of Chris Weigand Design, LLC, a full service retail design consultancy based in northeast Ohio. Chris has been designing awesome hanging product merchandising, and other retail design solutions for two decades. He’s lent his expertise to many of the world’s largest retailers including Walmart, Target, CVS and Lowe’s. Contact him at (330) 858-8926 to discuss your retail design needs. He and his team would love to work with you.

 

CLE Auto Show

We recently visited the Cleveland Auto Show and thought we would share a few photos with you. Auto shows are great for getting design inspiration from not only cars and trucks, but also the exhibits and displays.

And there was not a lot of duplicity in terms of exhibits with what we saw at the Detroit show earlier this year. In fact Subaru had a nicer presentation in Cleveland than Detroit (which is considered a larger and more “prestigious” show). We liked the illuminated slats on the display shown in Cleveland; these could be seen from a great distance and attracted us to the Subaru exhibit.

One thing we noticed in Cleveland vs. Detroit was a fewer interactive displays in Cleveland. The Motor City show had them everywhere, especially right next to each car. Our hometown show relied more upon traditional signs. Overall though the use of interactive signs is the highest it has ever been, according to our non-scientific visual survey.

Here are some pics from the Cleveland Auto Show. Enjoy.

Organic Seed Display

This week I spied this wonderful organic seed display at Lowe’s, and wanted to share it with you.

The display is clean and simple, with a nice higher end feel for a temporary display. It looks well constructed. It even spins. I like the repetition of four panels to create the display, which keeps costs down. It was around six feet tall, and easy to shop.

The header graphics take up an appropriate amount of space, showcasing the brand, and “100% Organic” message.

The seed packets are well designed with a high-end glossy finish. Bright color graphics of plants and vegetables allow guests to quickly navigate the display visually. A great example of letting the packaging do its job instead of relying on fussy, and expensive supplementary wayfinding signage. The packaging also was unique for it’s “zip-loc” like closure. Sometimes you want to save seeds for future use. The closure is a brilliant addition to seed packets, which are usually paper and once they are open they’re exposed to the elements, or could get lost.

Note, in regards to organic seeds, it’s important that consumers purchase seeds that are free of neonicotinoids, a form of insecticides found in many commercially grown plants and seeds. The chemical is placed in the seeds and is subsequently in the plants that grow from the seeds. Neonicotinoids have been found to disrupt pollinators ability to navigate and ultimately survive. When buying seeds for your garden, we encourage you to purchase responsibly sourced seeds that are organic, free of harmful chemicals and are GMO free (i.e. non-genetically modified).

-Chris

Chris Weigand Design, LLC does not endorse Lowe’s or the makers of these organic seeds, or their display. But we do support any effort to create a healthy and sustainable environment for ourselves, our children and future generations.