Rising Star Sonja Haviland refers to her work on a Cannondale retail experience that brought “an incredible amount of brand recognition” as one of
her greatest accomplishments in retail design.
Retail Environments: How did you get involved
in retail design?
After a cross-country move to San Francisco,
serendipitously, a job landed in my lap at
a boutique design firm in sleepy Sausalito,
Calif. I had intended to continue working in
residential design, but was quickly romanced
by the fast pace and the boundless creativity
of retail design. I have truly lucked out
and have been able to work for and with
talented people who are nurturing and
Retail Environments: What do you consider
your greatest accomplishments at this point
in your career?
Seeing something you designed built is
extremely rewarding, but it’s even more
fulfilling to know that it was a success for
the client on many levels. For example, we
designed an immersive and authentic cycling
lifestyle experience specific to Cannondale ...
Ultimately, it brought an incredible amount
of brand recognition. To [know that I was]
part of the process that achieved this result
[gives me] an extraordinary feeling of
Retail Environments: Where do you find
inspiration for your designs?
Collaboration. No one person is the most
knowledgeable about every aspect of the
design process. When you allow yourself to
partner and collaborate with people that fill
those knowledge gaps, incredible design
As a retail designer, an important part
of a project is working with fixture manufacturers and their engineers. I love working
with great manufacturers. Oftentimes, the
collaboration of the designer and engineer
produces a product that far exceeds the
Retail Environments: What do you see as
the greatest challenge for retail design today?
Although technology is literally putting
everything at our fingertips and we can have
items delivered in a short time right to our
door, people need interaction with physical
items. There is still a feeling of immediacy,
of being able to have the items at that exact
moment that won’t go away. The challenge
is finding a balance between physical and
Retail Environments: How would you like
to influence the future of retail design?
I look forward to creating environments that
embrace technology while enhancing the
emotional experience. I want to ensure that a
person can still have an emotional connection
while making a purchase. For retail to be truly
successful, design needs to move forward
embracing and merging the “mom and pop”
way with the “Amazon” way.
Do you know a promising
PAVE is accepting
nominations for the 2015 PAVE
Rising Star awards until Oct. 9.
Nominate at http://bit.ly/1hqtOTG.