design:retail - November/December 2015 - (Page 32)

perspectives 032 Leaving a Legacy ELLE CHUTE RETIRING CO-FOUNDER, CHUTE GERDEMAN "We're really all relationship makers at heart." - ELLE CHUTE I 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 the future. 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 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2015 DESIGNRETAILONLINE.COM 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 design changed? 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 http://www.DESIGNRETAILONLINE.COM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of design:retail - November/December 2015

design:retail - November/December 2015
Editor’s Note
Show Talk
On Trend
We Love This!
Designer Picks
Clicks & Mortar
How’d They Do That?
Have You Heard?
Shopper Insights
Shopping with Paco
New York Retail
Buyers’ Guide
Company Listing
Product Category Index
Product Category Listing

design:retail - November/December 2015