Local and More
One factor that definitely resonated with the store owners was local.
“We tried to use many local products in the building — block from St. George, trestlewood planks from Lindon, and many more,” says Rigby. “We wanted to accent the products that were going to be in the store; our Better in Utah brand is one of those. We built a front counter and made the Sweets & Treats area incorporate these hyperlocal Better in Utah products.”
Wallace points out that “we knew we were working on a design that aimed to showcase the unique characteristics of the southern Utah region. We conducted extensive research on the region’s natural resources and materials that are native to southern Utah. We explored the geological formations, the flora and the cultural significance of the area. We carefully selected elements that would showcase the uniqueness of southern Utah while aligning with the overall aesthetic and functionality of the project.”
Another key element was an inviting yet convenient layout.
According to Rigby, “We also wanted the store to look timeless, so we incorporated different wood finishes, colors that were in the natural area around us, all while featuring each department separately but cohesively, making the guests’ navigation of the store easier.”
Asked how the store design came together, he recounts: “We researched pictures and magazines and visited many other stores. Some ideas even came out of past Progressive Grocer magazine issues! … We brought in different elements such as wood, metal scaffolding, skylights, light boxes, and texture from wallpaper. All this makes it a unique and exciting store to work and shop.”
“We brainstormed creative concepts that balanced the partner’s ideas and the demographic data,” adds Wallace. “We explored various design approaches, considering elements such as color schemes, typography, imagery and layout. We presented visual mockups and prototypes to illustrate our proposed design strategy, seeking feedback and input from the partner throughout the process.”
A collaborative approach, with Decorworx providing regular updates on the design progress and seeking Rigby and Daines’ input at key milestones, resulted in what Wallace deems “a visual design that successfully combined the partner’s original ideas with the insights derived from the demographic data. The design not only resonated with the target audience, but also effectively communicated the partner’s message and achieved their objectives.”
Among the more novel aspects of the design are the use of large routed sho sugi ban signs, which, Wallace notes, “are truly remarkable and add an incredible aspect to the overall aesthetic.”
She explains: “Sho sugi ban is a traditional Japanese technique of charring wood to enhance its durability and create a unique textured surface. When combined with the routing technique, it elevates the signs to a whole new level of visual appeal. These signs not only serve a practical purpose of providing information or wayfinding, but they also become focal points within the space, commanding attention and creating a sense of intrigue. The use of sho sugi ban brings a natural, earthy element to the design, connecting it to the environment and evoking a feeling of warmth and authenticity.”
Wallace also notes that “[t]hroughout the design process, we collaborated closely with our craftsmen, leveraging their expertise in working with these materials. Their insights and techniques not only ensured the proper utilization and preservation of the materials, but also added an artisanal touch to the final design.
Of course, there were bound to be difficulties. Rigby notes that “our biggest challenge was we knew what we wanted, but [translating] it to the computer and then to the actual building was a challenge. Decorworx really walked us through it and helped us build the vision boards and find the right materials and styles that would be cohesive throughout the store. They used the style of the outside of the store, designed by Design Sequence out of Salt Lake City, and made a cohesive style inside and out.”
Given the tendency for setbacks to occur, Wallace identifies the need for flexibility as imperative. “In many cases, there are fixed deadlines associated with events like grand openings, where the completion of construction is crucial,” she observes. “Flexibility plays a crucial role in adapting to unforeseen circumstances and evolving needs.”