design:retail - July 2017 - 70
← DWR's new strategy
focuses on accessibility, encouraging
customers to explore
and experience the
The new Portland Studio is located in the Pearl
District, the oldest surviving warehouse district
in the city. At 24,000 sq. ft., it is currently the largest DWR Studio. The façade features rows of the
warehouse's original square sash windows. A
simple gray and white paint scheme enhances the
elevation that is branded with a large "wordmark"
spelling of Design Within Reach in halo-lit letters
and a bright red DWR logo cabinet sign over the
entrance door. "The historical context of this old
commercial structure provides the perfect juxtaposition for the clean contemporary house settings
that serve as the backdrop for the vast collection of
modern furniture," Capretz notes.
While many of the DWR locations are adaptive
reuse projects, like Portland, the Atlanta project is the company's first truly ground-up design
and construction project. The approximately
13,000-sq.-ft. Atlanta Studio serves as DWR's
flagship in the Southeast. A double-height glass
curtain wall on the front and rear façades, along
with a palette of zinc, steel and painted metal
panels, elicits a high-end and contemporary feel
that is once again branded with the wordmark
lettering and entry door signage.
Both Portland and Atlanta have a central,
double-height hub that greets and engages customers. This moment of engagement is enhanced
by two focal points that are distinct elements of the
new design concept. A collection of hundreds of
→ The grand staircase
and Light Cloud
providing a distinct
impression as customers arrive in the
double-height hub of
the Portland Studio.
pendant fixtures is arranged in an incredible cloud
of light that creates a "wow" moment at the entry.
The first one was hung in Stamford and each Studio
since has a cloud with its own narrative. "In Portland, we had the opportunity to give a nod to the
Gold Rush with Tom Dixon fixtures," Sayigh adds.
"They have beautiful veins of gold running through
them, so the collection insinuates a river of gold."
And don't think that goes unnoticed. "Soon after we open a new Studio, Instagram explodes with
photos of the Light Cloud," Capretz says. "This is
a testament to the power of this unique feature to
delight and transport our visitors."
The other featured element in each new store is
a 30-ft. Swatch Wall. "Design Within Reach offers
thousands of Maharam fabric and Edelman leather options, yet previously there was no evidence
of that for the customer," Sayigh explains. "The
Swatch Wall offers 300 rectangular upholstered
swatch blocks that can be pulled off the wall. This
detail is now a colorful beacon for the store and
communicates the sense of limitless possibilities.
People weren't aware of this and now it is an iconic
element in the stores."
For DWR, "accessible" means that product can be
seen and touched or, as the staff likes to say, "taken
for a test drive." The Light Cloud and Swatch Wall
are new ways of communicating that accessibility.
"Our primary programming objective is accessibility: we want our customers to feel free to
explore and 'kick the tires,'" Capretz says. "DWR
isn't a gallery or museum, it's an immersive environment in which customers can 'experience' the
furniture. Pull down any chair from a wall display
and try it out at different tables. Hop onto a display platform to test the 'sit' of a featured lounge
chair, let our Studio staff move furniture from one
end of the Studio to another to see how you like a
different combination. Everything is allowed, and
encouraged by a friendly staff focused on the client's desires."
While the primary display strategy for DWR is
to merchandise in context, so customers can relate
to the rooms of a home, there are some isolated
product displays. A piece of furniture may be
highlighted for its visual appeal on a clean white
platform or a beautiful plane of glowing frosted
acrylic. Barriers are not created between the customer and the merchandise and signage is kept to
"We avoid over-merchandising for the sake of