Some store interior elements, such as
showcases, haven’t changed much over
the years. But stores have seen big advancements in lighting, high-tech materials,
KAUFMAN: Before World War II, retail
was dominated by major department stores,
mostly downtown. A dramatic change took
place after World War II, when firms such
as Sears Roebuck & Co. expanded the concept of the freestanding store. This heralded
the advent of the suburban shopping center,
enabled by the automobile.
For department stores in the ‘50s, ‘60s,
and ‘70s, design was extremely important.
The perception was that the design of stores
was what brought customers in.
KEPRON: Sixty years ago, the world of
retail was mom-and-pop specialty stores.
What drove the experience was the social
connection. Then with the advent of chain
retailers, stores eventually got bigger—until
that personal connection was increasingly
missed. Today, we might see stores getting smaller and smaller. We are seeing an
increase in the desire for authenticity, with a
sense that things were made by real people.
GERDEMAN: Store designs must be
more unique and interesting than in the
past. Fixture makers, particularly, should
use more authentic materials. Retailers will
see that it will have a larger impact on customers and their purchases. Today, it’s about
making a connection and being real.
Manufacturers are using less laminate
and chrome because consumers today are
not about plastic. They want the real thing.
They want to feel like they can relate to the
retailers they visit. There are more interesting methods and technique of display
that make the merchandise feel unique. It’s
FETZER: In many ways, stores are the
same. I can still walk down a department-store aisle, past showcases that we could
have made in 1970. But lighting in the store, if done properly,
is absolutely fantastic compared to the good old days.
And technology has allowed designers to become more creative
with fixture shapes. Machining capacities and manufacturing
capacities now allow for modeling almost any shape or size. Just
imagine the future of 3D printing!
The digital age has also made signage and video extremely effective. We are overwhelmed with visual information these days,
perhaps too much for comfort.
THE CONSUMER BASE
Retailers and CPG manufacturers once led the trends. Consumers
now call the shots with their desire for customized looks. The retail
landscape now celebrates individuality by encouraging customers
to insert themselves into the brand experience, crafting a narrative
that breeds viral marketing and loyalty.
KAUFMAN: One of the major advances that the retail industry
has accomplished is understanding the customer—what they want
to buy and how they want to buy.
Christine Taylor Collection provided this holiday decor for Belk’s
housewares department in 2002. Dangling visual props remain a classic.
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