schuh at Bluewater, Kent, receives a makeover from MRA architecture and interior design, creating a new look that is to be rolled out across schuh’s new stores
Architect: MRA Architecture & Interior Design
Size: 215 m sq
Cost: Not disclosed
Duration: Four weeks
Words by Emily Martin
Images by Adrian Ruiz Martin
Established in 1981, schuh has grown to become a hugely successful omni-channel retailer and this year launched a new interior design concept at its store in the Bluewater shopping centre in Kent. Created by MRA Architecture & Interior Design the concept, dubbed the 'twentyFIFTEEN', will now be rolled out across schuh's new sites to communicate brand values of 'innovation, service and convenience'.
While developing the twentyFIFTEEN concept, MRA says it was first and foremost inspired by schuh as a people-centred company. 'It's a business with a very open and inclusive vision, great product choice and wide customer appeal, supported at all levels by a highly motivated and knowledgeable workforce,' says Anshu Srivastava, managing director of MRA. 'We looked at brand communications to see how schuh already represents itself, for example PR campaigns, website and social media channels.'
The new motif is incorporated into the high-level wayfinding inside the store
MRA used its research to translate the company's zeitgeist into an interior design that represents the brand in 2015. Additionally to 'develop and deepen' its approach, the practice turned for inspiration to the work of contemporary artists Aakash Nihalani and Will Dorner, both of whom explore the relationship between public space and people in a way that is witty, uncomplicated, colourful and inclusive. 'Their artistic ideas happened to chime perfectly with the technological characteristics evident in schuh's impressive website and back office systems,' says Srivastava.
Inspired by these connections MRA has developed a shop-fit concept based on improved sightlines and simple modular forms. The scheme's use of bold colour helps to organise the customer's journey, with low-tech construction techniques and sustainable materials, such as birch-faced plywood and maple, making fixtures and units easy to use, simple to install and good value. And with the whole shop-fit now based on a specially developed kit-of-parts system, it is the new mid-floor units that particularly bring the concept of lightweight and modular construction to life and align to MRA's ambition of creating visual clarity through its design.
'We have been able to reduce the height of mid-floor units by making the perimeter system work harder - this increases visibility and helps the customers quickly orientate themselves on entering the store,' says MRA design director Stephanie Srivastava. All the units and furniture for the shop were custom designed by MRA.
MRA's newly designed schuh motif features above the Bluewater store entrance
'The very essence of the construction creates forms which are low and three-dimensional, but this means that the display units are accessible from all sides and allied to our new LED lighting design, which allows the customer to more easily see, reach and pick up a particular style,' she says. Required by shuh to provide an all- LED lighting solution for the store, MRA designed a dramatic lighting scheme. Contrast and shadow was minimised by introducing a mix of flood and spotlights, enabling light to reach all the display products - even on lower shelves.
Digital kiosks are also placed throughout the store for product look-ups and sales. These interfaces have been designed to support the customer journey and integrate the new store aesthetic, as well as further enhancing the brand experience by making a seamless connection between the physical and online sides of the business.
Also charged with schuh's new motif development, MRA has provided a new store facade that debuts the retailer's new 'starburst' graphic, responding to schuh's brief of 'looking both backwards and forwards to arrive at an integrated vision'. MRA explored the geometry of schuh's classic, oval-shaped logo to devise a graphic of shooting tangential lines and overlapping tonal fields. The new dynamic reinterpretation is repeated as a unifying theme throughout the rest of the interior, such as the high-levelled wayfinding that wraps around the entire store to identify product zones.
Anshu Srivastava comments: 'We are delighted to have worked with schuh on the twentyFIFTEEN interior retail concept. The collaboration has been a fantastic experience, which has resulted in a store environment that successfully captures the innovative and customer-orientated values for which the client is renowned.'
MRA Architecture & Interior Design
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