THERE WAS A TIME when all a store fixture had to do was hold
merchandise. Today, they’re expected to do everything but take out the trash.
How did we come to demand so much of the fixture?
Blame advancements in materials, manufacturing equipment, and engineering. Or blame changes in consumer behavior, retail operations, and technology.
Whatever the case, the fixture has undergone major changes in this century
A.R.E. Design Award judges deemed them important enough to name a
Fixture of the Year since 2001. Advancements in fixturing can be traced through
these entries deemed the best of the best.
13 years of store fixture standouts
While jewelry cases had been self-
illuminated and backlighting had
come into play for cosmetics, this
forerunner of today’s shelf illumi-
nation earned the Skinmarket’s
kiosk in Rockaway, N. J., the cov-
eted title. Now the product itself was
as brightly lit as the messaging.
Live hands-on products.
Consumers were accustomed to seeing
TVs playing live in-store, but plugged-in
products generally had been on
utilitarian shelves set against walls
to manage dangling wires. Not
anymore. In New York’s Chelsea,
Best Buy displayed live cell phones and
digital cameras (remember when those
were t wo different products?) on a sleek
display with changeable surfacing for
By now, fixtures were becoming
so advanced that beauty and func-
tionality were expected. So it was
a natural leap for Futuretronics
to use them as the store design.
Self-illuminated and self-
powered, the vitrines in the
Orlando store also served as
Fixtures were getting technological
at the turn of the century. Skechers
USA’s display at Universal City
Walk in Universal City, Calif.,
integrated monitors to engage
shoppers with multimedia. Yet it
still held merchandise and reinforced
branding—not the first such package
deal, but one considered to be well
In the midst of all the techno wizardry,
sophisticated beauty still reigned
supreme in luxury jewelry.
Cartier’s fixture grouping
in Honolulu featured curved
Starphire glass, concealed fiber-
optic lighting, and secured storage.
All the illumination possibilities
had begun to stir the imagination
of designers. Small wonder we
now saw this other-worldly presentation of eyewear at Oliver
Peoples in Santa Ana, Calif. They
floated against a brightly lit back
wall, achieved divine presentation on
side walls with concealed lighting, and
flirted with shoppers from LED-framed
bowls in the surface of the counter.
More timeless elegance.
Judges’ choice of understated luxury
in Lily Simon’s Centre Rockland store
in Montreal once again proved
that subtle expressions of quality
will always be on point, no matter
what bells and whistles become
As the green movement gained
strength for at least the second time
around, retailers looked to show
shoppers they were treehuggers
too. Those early green stores had
a decidedly granola look. Made
from local park trees tagged
for destruction, O2’s Guru Bar in
London was cutting edge for its day.
While complicated shapes were not
unusual, they were eye-catching,
and they remain so today. The
sharp angles and geometric
fractures of the fixturing in this
Zu+Elements in Milan earned it
judges’ ultimate kudos.