design:retail - July 2017 - 68
It is the mission of Design Within Reach (DWR)
Since 1998, the company has been giving consumers access to innovative works from iconic designers.
For the past seven years, DWR leadership has been
working with New York-based, multidisciplinary
design firm DFA to bring a new cohesive vision and
direction to the retail experience. Together, they have
been transforming locations across the country from
Stamford, Conn., and New York's SoHo to Portland,
Ore., and Atlanta.
"DWR offers literally thousands of items, from
well-known classics of authentic modern furniture,
to collections from design brands new to the U.S.
market, the work of emerging designers mentored
by DWR, and the creations of our internal product
development team-a potentially overwhelming variety, but also an excitingly unique blend," describes
Alain Capretz, director of Studio design for Design
Within Reach. "Our Studio design concept has
evolved over the last seven years as a strategy to make
this vast amount of product digestible and relevant
to the retail customer looking for room solutions."
The new design direction organizes merchandise
into "houses." A house consists of a collection
of three or four rooms-such as a living room,
dining room, bedroom and possibly a study or
guestroom-that offer a cohesive aesthetic.
"Each group of rooms, informed by a different
design sensibility, draws its own visitors responding to materials, color palettes, forms and details
that reflect their tastes," Capretz describes. "Some
are quite dramatic, even grand, while others are
more intimate or more cheerfully playful. It's the
variety across rooms and houses that makes the
Studio visit so rich."
The collection of houses creates an intuitive wayfinding strategy. The combinations make logical
sense and encourage customer exploration. Customers easily can pair items together on their own
or with staff assistance. In many cases, houses are
organized in parallel lines to make it easier for customers to compare and shop between houses. The
matrix of houses and standardized rooms surround
a core zone where staff and customers can explore
and discuss specific products and individual needs
"Over time, we've found this approach has
given our customers the confidence to see beyond
↑ The 30-ft. Swatch Wall
is a featured design
element in the Studios
the sense of limitless
→ [Opposite page, left]
The new design
direction for DWR is to
individual items, considering full room solutions
that are unique expressions of their individual
style," Capretz says.
The number of houses and composition of
the rooms is customized to best suit the size
and location of the store. For an 8,000-sq.-ft. to
12,000-sq.-ft. store, that could mean six houses.
Dropped ceilings and occasional walls painted
white complemented by cerused oak flooring delineate the rooms, while semi-transparent scrims
throughout the store provide spatial breaks that
create texture, color and rhythm. Poured concrete
→ [Opposite page, right]
Simple and clean
displays highlight chair
options in this dining
and chair vignette.
with a honed but imperfect finish is typically used
for flooring in the circulation areas and outdoor
"When dealing with a vast collection of furniture,
giving the architecture too much attention would
be distracting," says Laith Sayigh, principal of DFA.
"The architecture offers a neutral background with
the furniture providing a distinct point of view."
This architectural philosophy is not just applied
to the interior. The exterior façade of each store is
also simply stated and branded, driving attention
to the product that awaits inside.