Wicked Cool Material Usage

I was at Best Buy the other day researching a project when I came across a couple new headphone displays that caught my eye. We’ve worked on plenty of these kinds of project, but I was really impressed with the use of unique materials. Why didn’t I think of that?

 

The Beats display used felt for the backdrop and head shaped headphone display mounts. Felt seems perfect for a headphone display since it resembles sound deadening material used in sound studios. We often talk about this material on these types of projects but never really came up with using it so nicely. The extruded look of the background is contemporary and pleasing to look at. And the use on the globe like “heads” is a fantastic, touch worthy detail.

Adjacent was a Skull Candy display with an awesome platform detail – stacked plywood and acrylic, below the headphone case display. Plywood is a great on brand material for Skull Candy, and the thoughtful way it was used in the display was well done.

These are two great brands to work on. Great products and brand stories, that give the retail designer a ton of room to do interesting, cool details and well thought out retail experiences. The use of these materials in these displays helps reinforce brand stories (sound story for Beats, authenticity and raw appeal for Skull Candy) while remaining playful and unique.

Wicked cool.

-Chris


Chris Weigand is an industrial designer with over twenty years experience designing retail experiences for over two hundred brands (including a few that sell headphones). Contact Chris today to have him help you tell your brand story at retail. 330.858.8926 or chris@chrisweiganddesign.com

 

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Worth A Damn In-Store Data & Interactive Is Finally Here

Last month I attended the large retail design industry trade show Global Shop in Chicago.  I don’t go every year because quite honestly, the retail industry is slow to come out with much new to look at. But it had been a few years, and it was in Chicago so I could drive out there. It was a great show this year, and I spotted a few things that have me thinking that physical retail is figuring out how to catch up to on-line’s primary advantages: interactivity and data.

The main advantage of online marketing and retailing is that you have access to data. You can see how someone found your website, where they came from, where they went, virtually every step of the shopping experience can be entered into a spreadsheet. There is a limitless supply of people who will help you mine that data and tell you how much to spend, and where to spend it to (hopefully) sell more stuff. With all this data, online marketing is a pretty easy equation. And easy equations mean less spend, more profit.

Physical retail is a bit trickier. Unless you’re actually interviewing guests, or having them fill out surveys, or you’re somehow able to connect people to receipts, it’s sort of messy and expensive to identify who’s in your stores and ultimately how to market to them. I don’t know of anyone who’s solved for this holistically. I’ve thought about it (way too much) and have few ideas primarily because 1) customer attitudes needed to change and 2) technology needed to catch up.

Just a few years ago “spying” on consumers, and asking them to pony up information was  impossible. But now in a world where our lives are on multiple, mostly public, social media sites and everyone is on the hunt for free wi-fi, consumers are more inclined to share high level data in exchange for something.

And even if we did want to find out more about guests in stores, the technology just wasn’t there for us to do so without a lot of effort, cost or intrusion. But now we have cameras, sensors, connections to mobile devices everywhere. And savvy consumers are okay with it.

Finally traditional retail can start to level the playing field with online retail.

As I walked to McCormick Place floor and thought about real multichannel retail marketing, four companies caught my eye at the show this year. Here is my take on why the work they are doing is important to tangible stores and keeping pace with online.

 

Data Display (http://www.dd-usa.com)

What it is: Using RFID technology, Data Displays (DD) displays can sense when a guest had picked up a product and can play a marketing message relevant to that product.

Why it’s important: The internet tracks everything you click on and provides information and makes recommendations based on that.  What DD is doing here is a big leap to usefully and proactively interacting with guests. No longer do I have to press a button to get info. This also gives real purpose to the video screens. They aren’t just for playing mindless advertising loops anymore. They now have a purpose and are an integral part of the sales process in store.

How to get it right: Make sure you have good, concise, engaging content on the video screen. Have a good maintenance and content strategy. NO BLANK SCREENS! Embellish the experience with subtle lighting cues and traditional graphics.

What’s next: I’d like to see technology that can track line of sight so we can capture guests who aren’t even picking products up, rather just window shopping, and share product information with them. Would be nice to gather demographic information as well as number of touches by product.

Parcel Pending (https://www.parcelpending.com)

What it is: Turn-key solution for “buy online, pick up in store” (BOPIS) situations where customers can pick up products or parcels at their leisure, even after hours. Units are modular including refrigerated units. They are controlled by an interactive kiosk. Door pop open automatically after you enter in your data.

Why it’s important: This was the most exciting thing I saw, because I feel like the possibilities are endless. Grocery stores could use these to aid new online shopping experiences. The units are great for apartment buildings, adding more space and technology that can adapt – no longer one box per person, rather can be tailored to parcel size, on an “as needed” basis. These modular units can be part of the foundation for whole new retail experiences. They ultimately can free up store shelves, reduce real estate footprints, and really revolutionize retail as we know it. They are fully integrated to our online shopping habits already and can fulfill our need for instant gratification. And they can be treasure troves of data.

How to get it right: Work on your supply chain and challenge conventional thinking. Leverage their modularity and scalability to suite your business and geography. Leverage data collection to learn the demographics of who is using them and how. Vinyl wraps can let them stand out or fade into the background.

What’s next: I’d love to get my hands on these modules and build out a pop-up store solution, or solution for independent retailers to bring them into the 21st century. Refrigerated units combined with grocery store online ordering could revolution how we buy groceries. In general the store of the future will forego store shelves, have banks of these units and supplement them with impulse shopping opportunities or product and brand experiences. These could take convenience shopping to the next level and be bad news for traditional (and online) retail. A real game changer in the right hands.

 

 

Gable (https://gablecompany.com)

What it is: Digital signage, interactive media and architectural graphic elements.

Why it’s important: I was impressed by Gable’s fit and finish on their mall kiosk. The detailing was done well, and in retail, details do matter. Digital signage technology has grown by leaps and bounds, and there are a lot of players in this space. Digital signage and interactive is a great way to communicate a lot of information efficiently in real time.

How to get it right: Track how people are using your kiosks: where are they going, when are they using the unit, what are they interested in. Large format digital signage is ,very effective in any retail environment, at capturing short attention spans. You likely need to include something digital in your environment, make sure you have great content, it’s relevant and useful. Invest in creative and user experience, not just the technology. Make sure your form factors are on brand, and pay attention to details and quality.

What’s next: There is a lot of opportunity for style to factor into the design of digital displays. Modular LED panels allow limitless sizes to be created. Corners, columns, ceilings, floors…you can seemingly cover anything with digital signage. Interactive has the potential to give us the future we’ve always imagined. And the opposite of that is, can the tech recede into the background and we focus on content and stunning photography, and content generation.

Stratecache (https://www.stratacache.com/solutions/digital-signage/)

What it is: What is seemingly just digital signage is also content management, real time data management and content delivery. Stratecache’s digital signage can recognize guest demographics (e.g. male or female) and tailor marketing content deliver specific to the guest. Can connect with guests’ mobile devices. Their system can seamlessly network your brand content across all doors and update in real time.

Why it’s important: This is as close as you can get to an online experience at retail in terms of pushing out brand content, and taking in high level, actionable consumer data.

How to get it right: Assure consumers that their privacy is being maintained, while gathering insight into who is coming to your store. And while not specific to any one supplier or retailer, the idea of an op-in for wi-fi is a great way to have consumers voluntarily connect with you. From there you can start connecting the dots between consumer and behavior. Leverage tracking cameras to understand who is in your store and what are they looking at. Have relevant and accurate content ready to go so that once you recognize who’s in your store you’re pushing the right message at the right time in  the right place. Pretty simple, right?

What’s next: Yes, it’s like a sci-fi movie, but this is the world we live in. And there’s no reason physical retail shouldn’t be privy to the same data digital marketing has, within the bounds of consumer comfort. I’d like to see all of this technology coupled with register and online sales data. Some very smart people can then take all of this data and create a “world” of information that will give brands a realistic image of what retail looks like. And consumers will be delighted by tailored experiences. Less about stuff and more about ease. That’s when the fun starts.

 

In closing I’ll say a few things. First, I think physical retail is always going to be relevant. People simply like touching stuff. I don’t see how that ever goes away. Tech tools are coming into their own to help level the playing field of tangible experiences versus online experiences. And lastly, I think we are on the cusp of some massive changes in retail – the store of the future is going to look a lot different and I’m super excited to help shape it if I can.

What are your thoughts on the future of physical retail? What about these tech solutions I highlighted? Any others out there you like? I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Cheers!

-Chris

 


Chris Weigand is an industrial designer and retail design consultant based in sunny (today at least) Ohio. No, he didn’t get paid, nor does he endorse these companies necessarily, rather they’re just good examples in his opinion based on what he was seeing at one trade show. The reality is being in retail is pretty freaking exciting and interesting. If you’d like to explore the future of retail for your business with Chris, give him a call at (330) 858-8926 (cell) today. Or you prefer he can be reached via email at chris@chrisweiganddesign.com

New(ish) Inline Fixture at Target is Spot On

A little while back, on one of my several-times-a-week trips to Target, I spotted this Hearth & Hand upgrade to the Home department. Chip & Joanna Gaine’s brand Magnolia is pretty mainstream. We’ve even worked on a Magnolia project (so it really must be mainstream lol). So having an offshoot in Target isn’t surprising as the marketing arc completes itself.

I really liked the execution of the brand at mass retail. I stopped and (secretly…shhhh) snapped a few photos to share with you all. I don’t know who designed this but I think they did a decent job of creating a stage for Magnolia’s curated product offering of home decor and lifestyle products.

The overall look is clean and simple with a palette consisting of clear coated steel, matte black powder coat and a light natural (pine?) wood. Also there’s a nifty wood door looking panel on the show end cap. It give a contemporary look while honoring the authentic look that honors the brand. Shelves and fixtures are arranged, off of a standard gondola backbone, in a way that evokes “boutique”; once again, on brand.

Have these materials been used before?

You betcha.

Do they still work?

Yes indeed.

A hundred years from now retail designers will be using clear coated steel and natural wood together and it’ll work perfectly.

What would I fix? Really I’d fix the merchandising…we need some taller products in the boutique areas inline, where the shelves step down to create a stage. Instead we’re left with book holders or some other low product. And on the show end cap all the product is low. Gimmie a plant or something tall to keep my eye moving.

Kuddos to the framed hanging headers. I do this all the time on concepts because it’s simple and looks great – gets the message across in an elegant way allowing everyone to focus on brand not fixture. Nothing about this fixture is overdone, and the details – exposed welds, nods to board and baton siding, and barn doors – all work together to provide delight without stealing attention from the product.

I love seeing the exposed spot welds on the well proportioned shelf frames that are all meticulously lined up. Like saying “we’re artsy, yet organized”.

Spot on.

-Chris

 


 

Chris Weigand is a professional designer and artist (and politician and…) who operates a fun little boutique retail design consultancy in the middle of a National Park in Ohio. He loves shopping, or at least window shopping, whenever he can. If you’d like to have Chris and his wicked awesome partners work on putting art and strategy to your brand at retail or online, contact him today at (330) 858-8926. We are totally not affiliated with Target or Magnolia, we just dig the way they’re doing things.

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

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.

cwd-sw-florida-indigo

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.

inspire-page-2

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.

inspire-board-5

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

inspire-3

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

inspire-board-4

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.

inspire-page-1

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.

gm-materials-board

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.