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Comment: the importance of shopfitting to design by Jeff Kindleysides

It's said that the way in which you design and decorate your own home says much about you as a character and as an individual.

So it's interesting to think about how some brands rightly describe their retail offer as the 'home of the brand'. It's also interesting how it therefore follows that the quality of their store design and, as importantly, the shop fit, says much about them, their approach and their values.

It seems highly logical that there is a direct relationship between the perceived quality and attention to detail found in the shop-fit environment, and that of the retailer’s product. The two elements are mutually tied, and this observation applies across all market categories from value to premium. The important factor is relevance.

There is an argument that says value isn't measured by just price. If a retailer business model stands for affordability, it doesn't mean the way in which it presents itself can be done with thought, style and relevant attention to detail. Primark and Zara are two good examples of this theory.

Budget is always a major factor in fitting out stores, as is time pressure to complete as soon as possible and to get stores trading. But it's always disappointing when a store design is let down by below average quality of shop fit.

Decisions that influence the final outcome are made early on in the design process. These decisions typically focus firstly on the things in the fit out that will give the best perception of quality and an affinity with the brand at a cost per square metre.

Our company has designed stores for over 30 years and from the earliest days we realised that what you design stands and falls by the way it is executed. The attention to detail and functionality, the choice of materials and lighting all add up to a big statement of what the retailer is about, and what the customer can expect.

It’s important to recognise this relationship between the design concept and the reality of implementation: it's a critical factor in the success of a shop-fit. That's one of the reasons we set up our own prototype workshop to demonstrate, to both our clients and contractors, exactly how we envisioned things being made, and how those things add value in-store. We also wanted our designers to understand instinctively how to design with construction in mind. Good retail design is judged by how things are made, how they perform and how good the overall shop-fit is implemented. It all goes hand in hand.

Prototyping is critical when developing new design formats and something we encourage all of our clients to do. We often build fully working large sections of stores in our workshop to not only see all of the materials and furniture as they will finally be, but also to work with our clients in developing visual merchandising options and techniques as part of fixture development.

All of these things help foresee any areas of potential problems that can be ironed out before shop fitting on site, look at areas for cost saving and generally help to build stores that are mutually fulfilling for both the brand and the consumer.

Jeff Kindleysides is founder of Checkland Kindleysides. The company will be exhibiting in the Designer Pavilion at Retail Design Expo 2015. Click here to attend.

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