design:retail - November/December 2015 - (Page 32)
"We're really all relationship
makers at heart."
- ELLE CHUTE
N OCTOBER, award-winning
engaging, memorable, unique, transparent and honest.
design principal Elle Chute
announced her retirement
from Chute Gerdeman, the
firm she founded 26 years
ago with her husband Denny
Gerdeman. A thoughtful visionary,
widely respected creative force and
true believer in the power of branding,
Chute's 35 years of experience give her
an invaluable perspective on the retail
design industry. Here, she talks with
design:retail, looking back on how the
industry has changed over the last twoplus decades and sharing her hopes for
design:retail: What inspired you as a designer?
Chute: The many talented and creative people that
I got to work with truly inspired me. It helped me
grow as a designer and pushed my own creativity. I
had the opportunity to learn from so many people
with diverse backgrounds, and I'm thankful for
everyone that I have met along the way.
d:r: What are some of the most memorable
projects you worked on during your career?
Chute: Kiva Day Spa in Chicago is memorable
because I designed the entire experience from
scratch. I headed up the project with talented designers and created an environment that provided
exceptional services to its guests. It was all about
guest experience and making sure they were
comfortable and enjoyed every moment they
were in the space.
d:r: What has changed for the better in the retail
industry over the last few decades?
Chute: The changes that shoppers are experiencing
are the same the professionals are seeing behind
the scenes. Over the last two-plus decades, digital
communication and tools have allowed us to do
our job better and have enhanced our creative expression. We can craft personal storytelling, review
content from partners, modify ideas in real time
and share a unique point of view more clearly.
Customer experience design has embraced
opportunities to customize and personalize content and experiences. As designers, we should be
thoughtful moving forward to be transparent. RFID
technology, online and physical analytics, purchase
behavior tracking, and mobile beaconing can be
power tools if used with openness and restraint.
d:r: How has the meaning of "innovation" in retail
Chute: Innovation used to be a new type of visual
display or material or floorplan/shopping process. Now, innovation in retail has changed even
more dynamically because personal technology
has advanced so much while becoming affordable. Retail innovation is playing catch up to what
consumers already expect, with retailers needing
to provide a comprehensive and inclusive brand
dialogue along the entire shopping journey that is
d:r: What are your hopes for the future
of the retail design industry?
Chute: As designers, we really see
the "retail design industry" evolving
into areas it's never gone before, and
this will only accelerate in the coming years. The stakes are higher, the
passion is more powerful and the profession is at its most compelling point
yet. Everyone wants to know how to
create original connections.
The good thing is that we're really
all relationship makers at heart.
We create stores that are the embodiments of a brand, and then design ways
for consumers to learn the real story, to
connect emotionally and to share common values.
Looking ahead, the industry will place even
more importance on building relevant physical
stores. Additionally, our profession will provide
thoughtful strategy for managing the long-term,
cohesive brand promise of organizations. And
finally, we'll connect shoppers' own lifestyle brands
to the companies they care about most.
d:r: Speaking of the future, what's in store for you?
Chute: I plan to devote my time and energy to fine
arts, with a focus on painting.
- Lauren Mitchell Volker
ELLE CHUTE HAS MORE THAN 30 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE IN
EXPERIENTIAL RETAIL DESIGN, DEVELOPING BRAND STRATEGIES
AND REPOSITIONING PROGRAMS FOR MANY NATIONAL AND
INTERNATIONAL CLIENTS. SHE BEGAN HER CAREER IN 1978 AS AN
ENVIRONMENTS DESIGNER. PRIOR TO STARTING CHUTE GERDEMAN
WITH DENNY GERDEMAN IN 1989, SHE WORKED WITH THE DOODY
CO. AND NEXUS AND RICHARDSON SMITH (LATER ACQUIRED BY
LONDON-BASED FITCH INC.).
Photo courtesy of DOUGLAS REID FOGELSON, CHICAGO
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of design:retail - November/December 2015
design:retail - November/December 2015
We Love This!
Clicks & Mortar
How’d They Do That?
Have You Heard?
Shopping with Paco
New York Retail
Product Category Index
Product Category Listing
design:retail - November/December 2015