Back in 2009 we were grateful for the chance to design a merchandising system that would add some visual pizzazz to the aisles of a major drug store chain. We the freedom to add aisle interrupters, shelf treatments, lighting, shelf organizers, and overhead signage to dress up ho-hum standard gondola shelving, we were able to create something much more visually compelling and functional for them. We paid particular attention to providing consumers with bold and clear category labeling to make it easy to navigate. We also incorporated product education opportunities in the form of sample areas, educational signage, and small integrated flat screens for digital media. After a round or two of rough sketching we narrowed down the choices and moved into 3D. The results are below.
It’s not hard to design a display concept that’s colorful. The real challenge lies in designing one that can actually be manufactured affordably, provide flexibility for a range of store environments and display capacities, and break down and assemble easily and quickly. This was one of our the solutions we provided to a wine company a few years ago. Creating a single, stackable, lightweight module in metal that could be painted or powder coated in a range of colors fit the bill. A few bends in the tubing and a circular plate on each side for branding made it playful and fun.
How do you design one display that can be easily and inexpensively updated to showcase wine for various seasons? That was the question we addressed with this display concept for Clos Du Bois wines. Reflecting on their contemporary, european, preppy-casual identity, we designed an arched arbor structure in bleached wood that featured a deck platform and graphic treatments that could be swapped out easily to reflect their various seasonal promotional efforts. This favorite was just one of a number of directions we provided.
How do you get consumers excited about your new gaming cockpit seat at the next trade show? This was the challenge we were presented with a few years ago. With no stated limits in terms of structure or materials on this one, we were free to shoot the moon. Creating 3D models for concepts like these in a cost-effective way would be impossible, so we turned to sketching to explore a few ideas. The only thing we had to work with was the low-res image of the guy sitting in the actual product, so we started with that and sketched around him. We tried to go in different directions, from spaceship to indy car to stock car to whatever that other thing is (but it looks fast). Ultimately the stock car was the favorite.
Retail is war. If you have a product, and you want a few square feet of space on the floor of a big-box retailer, you have to fight for it. But what if you’re a major beverage company and you’ve already staked your claim in all the places where consumers expect to find you? How do you expand your footprint and boost sales? Back in 2005, we discovered some hidden real estate and provided our client with some new and exciting ways to integrate their products in a completely seamless, flexible, and visually exciting way. The below example was our solution for the gaming department. Constructed of laminated MDF, powder coated steel, edge-lit acrylic, and screened styrene, it featured a floating monitor and an integrated mini fridge to serve up cold single cans.
A few years ago we were asked to design a flexible system to showcase a range of products for a security camera maker. The market for these products is highly competitive, and the corresponding real estate at retail is naturally very visually crowded and noisy. Our approach was to design displays which contained little or no graphic information in lieu of a simple tablet computer for customer education. Our solutions also featured molded camera base modules with integrated lighting which could be swapped out for easy product changes. A simple and clean two-color treatment with a lot of negative space and a mixture of finishes from glossy to matte helped convey a premium feel. What do you think?
Microdistilleries are gaining popularity in many parts of the country. Harsen’s Island Distillery in Michigan is one of many such startups working hard to grow from a hobbyist’s passion into a bonafide thriving business. They already have a number of spirits pouring in their tasting room, but they reached out to us for some help in the creation of a new sub-brand of spiced spirits in an effort to appeal to a younger demographic and help fuel growth. Leveraging the notoriously big personality of their high-energy sales manager, our collaboration resulted in Angry Joe’s Spiced Rum and Bourbon. We concurrently helped develop the “Hydropure” brand for their proprietary water filtration process which provides the cornerstone of their unique value proposition. These new flavored spirits will be available very soon. Thanks to Jesse Augustine for lending his talent to this project.
Another exciting design challenge came my way recently involving a client who wanted a new table for their conference room. Their existing table had a few issues which needed to be resolved, namely:
1. The legs interfered with the chairs.
2. The integrated power and data ports were outdated.
3. the outlets on the floor were clearly visible with unsightly cables hanging out.
4. The finishes didn’t match the other newer furniture in the room.
After I got the dimensions of the room and the location of the outlets, I set out to design a table which would solve the various issues. It was important that it be constructed such that they could fabricate the metal structure on-site (client has a prototype shop). Also, the existing table was very large, so it was essential that the new design could break down into manageable pieces that would actually fit through the door. At the client’s request I created several different designs, but the one depicted below got the nod. It was my favorite, too.
As you can see, one of the pedestals doubles as a conduit and covers up the floor outlet completely while still providing easy access. The center of the table is basically an access panel to the cabling so that it can be wired easily.
What do you think?
I don’t typically design trade show booths, but I was very excited at the chance to design this one for a client several years ago. Since they were just getting their feet wet at the time as a trade show exhibitor, they wanted a design that could expand and contract to fit different venues. To maximize efficiency, I created a modular design that would allow them to showcase both their various products on the same basic structure. It made sense to construct these modules so that it would be easy to update their surface treatments so they could be rearranged and re-skinned to create an entirely new look for a minimal investment. The images below represent some of the ideation, 3D models, photos of the eventual completed booth, and a virtual look at future possibilities. Detail sketch by Reed Crawford.
I’ve been carrying around this chair idea in my head for a long time. Recently I decided to get it out of my head and build a 3D model of it so it would quit bothering me. The idea is based on a simple notion of designing a single vertebra-inspired structural element which, when duplicated and configured properly, could be used to build an adjustable chair. The chair shown below represents just one possible configuration. This is just the first draft. I’m already thinking about the weaknesses inherent in this design and how I might address them to make it easier to build, adjust, manufacture, etc. Still, it was a fun exercise. What do you think?
I dug this one up from deep in the archives and re-rendered it using the latest methods. I thought it worthwhile because this particular project shows how it is possible to go in some very different directions creatively in spite of the fairly strict parameters that must be followed on these kinds of projects. All of these concepts are very different, but they all capture the brand essence well by remaining faithful to the clean, simple, premium-looking logo treatment that was used on the bottles. Providing a few disparate options can really help clients to more precisely define the aesthetic they want their brand to present to consumers at retail.
Major brands know there's a high marketing value in the art of establishing a consumer presence wherever and whenever possible, including (and perhaps especially) locations they may not consciously acknowledge it. This was our task on this project, specifically targeting restaurant and bar accessories. Since we're passionate about good design in all forms, we did our best to create pieces which we felt expressed the brand as beautifully and cleanly as possible, while also being a little clever and faithful to their intended function.
The challenge of visual merchandising design is to take an existing two-dimensional brand identity and translate it into three dimensions in such a way that it will command attention in store. For this particular brand it was particularly rewarding, because it is defined by brilliant color and sweeping curves, which are automatically eye-catching. Thinking up four completely different ways to interpret the identity was not easy, but the client was very happy with the results. What do you think?
This was an enjoyable project because the brand identity was simple and clean, the scale was small, and we were asked to explore the use of edge-lit acrylic to add interest. After a round of sketches, we settled on a few directions and rendered them to scale. Here are a couple of our favorites, along with some examples from the sketch round.