design:retail - July 2017 - 12
HEN DESIGNING SPACES for well-
ness, it's important to connect
with the target audience, the
people who are actually walking
through the doors looking for a
better, more well-balanced life.
When Toronto-based figure3 was approached by
Surterra Therapeutics to design a medical marijuana
dispensary in Tampa, Fla., the firm reached out to
actual caregivers and users of medical marijuana
for insights. Positive thoughts about the products
included nature, compassion and connection. "We
tried to find the connection point," says Mardi Najafi,
senior team leader with figure3. "And the connection point right at the core center was food."
Think healthy, organic food; gathering around
a table; good memories. Using that, the team
focused on creating a more homey experience in
the main consultation area, which features a communal island with stools around it, resembling a
comfortable kitchen. "It's not a sales counter, me
versus you. We're there to collaborate and engage,"
Warm toned woods and other natural materials
and concrete, along with a neutral and soothing
color palette, put customers at ease.
For the product side of the store, where dummy
versions of items including creams, patches and
oils are displayed (laws don't allow actual products to be out on the floor), the store resembles a
garden, surrounded by an open "trellis." "It's like
the structure of a greenhouse or your back patio,"
User feedback and research also was key for
Columbus, Ohio-based FITCH's design of Current
Meditation, a modern meditation studio in Phoenix.
FITCH's Phoenix studio was approached
about the prospect of bringing meditation to the
masses. "They asked, 'How can we bring mindfulness into a franchise-able retail practice, and
affect the culture?'" recalls Jay Adams, design
In their research, the design team immersed
themselves in the mindfulness of meditation, holding classes at every meeting with different guides.
After more research and user interviews, the design team moved toward the idea of "a local mental
gym that felt like an upscale space that would give
[people] the yearning to come in," Adams says.
It all came down to the studio, which is an acoustically sealed space with a platform for the guide
to sit on while he or she leads people through the
meditation session. The guide is in full control of
the lighting in the space, which is designed to give
people the feeling that the space is infinite.
Outside of the studio, a decompression zone
features lockers where people can write their presession expectations and after-session thoughts.
A communal area with a table and tea encourages
visitors to gather and talk about their meditation
experience or different classes.
"It was important for this space to feel human.
If it was too processed, too clean, too linear, it
wouldn't allow the person to give meaning to their
experience," Adams says. "So we had to have natural
finishes." These finishes included a mosaic wall of
repurposed white oak squares and a warm tile floor.
For each of these brands, having customer opinions guide the design process resulted in atmospheres
that are comfortable and welcoming, both mentally
- Michelle M. Havich
Current Meditation photos courtesy of FITCH AND RELENTLESS INC.