Escape the Design Doldrums

June 1998


Escape the Design Doldrums

Adam Tihany has a recipe to spice up interiors

Boooor-ing. That's what the architect Adam Tihany thinks of much of the retail space he sees. Tihany, whose work includes designs for upscale eateries such as Le Cirque 2000 in New York City, has some design advice that could add spice to all retail environments, offered in an article in Luxemagazine.

"Too much of retail is innocuous space without any particular style," he writes. "The argument [for bland design] is that one cannot offend any customers, some of whom may live in an 18th century mansion and others in an ultramodern environment. They think their design is neutral, but it is not. It is fuzzy. You have to make some statement of who you are," he writes.

One way to make that statement is to come up with a "narrative" you can display in your store. Ralph Lauren is an expert at this, evoking an entire lifestyle of moneyed leisure through store decor. Tiffany & Co. is too. Its "narrative" is more subtle than Lauren's, but powerful nonetheless, Tihany points out. "You can walk in the street in a crowded city and see that blue box with a white ribbon and it immediately tells you a story. Tiffany has a very precise agenda and the very precise look of a department store of luxury."

Precision is, in fact, at the core of all effective retail image-building. Each element of a store's appearance, from lighting to furniture to floor to packaging to the product itself, must work with "seamless consistency" to produce a uniform, "tight" image, Tihany says. The customer must feel secure; he or she must never be surprised. Nothing can be out of whack.

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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