The Chico's shopping experience has always been about the merchandise. The stores themselves have been a neutral backdrop to the brand's colorful resort and sportswear fashions and accessories.
So when Chico's brought Callison on board to create a store in San Antonio, the Seattle-based design firm felt the time was right for a warmer, updated backdrop using several new fixturing systems and merchandising displays.
"Chico's is a very approachable brand," says Callison principal-in-charge M.J. Munsell. "It wants people to feel welcome and comfortable in the store environment, so it was critical to make the store welcoming and happy."
Designers wanted to give the store a stronger sense of place, but not one that related to a specific locale or ethnic look. So they used the image of a sunflower as a design guide, providing a warm, vibrant and communal experience in line with the Chico's customer's expectations.
Throughout the space, playful touches reference the artistic patterns and styling of the Chico's clothing line, such as the hand-sculpted pendant chandeliers with Venetian glass flowers that hang inside the two main rooms. Geometrically shaped ottomans near the parsons table double as displays and seating, and a leopard-pattern seating grouping is also available.
To provide a subtle resort feeling to the 3670-square-foot store, designers created a play between modern and traditional elements, such as polished stainless-steel tables and tower units. This modern, fresh aesthetic is complemented by the warm oak flooring, natural oak freestanding cabinets and a colorful palette. "It's a design language that the shopper won't necessarily have in her home," says Munsell, "but it isn't so sophisticated that it's over her taste level."
Designers organized the store into a series of rooms, including the front room, cashwrap room and sun room. A combination of freestanding and built-in casework helps to tell merchandise stories within each of the three areas. Along the perimeter, arched cabinets with dark walnut frames and yellow-tile mosaic backdrops serve as merchandise dividers.
Additional double-sided arched niches also create a destination for Chico's extensive line of accessories. In the past, these items were displayed on loose fixturing near apparel as well as in collections. Now, a pegboard-style display houses necklaces, while tiered trays hold bracelet bars and earring trees. Laser-cut, curvilinear metal work calls attention to the display from across the room. Drawer cabinets below anchor the niche and provide storage.
"Putting the accessories together makes for easier merchandising," says Munsell, "and the customer knows where to find the newest items."
Client: Chico's, Fort Myers, Fla.
Brian French, vp, construction
James Smith, Chico's Store Planning
Dave Ziel, Chico's Store Planning
Design/Architect: Callison, Seattle
M.J. Munsell, principal-in-charge
Ching Chung, lead designer
Christian Jochman, designer
Erik Mueller-Ali, designer
Jessica Eaton, designer
Sandie Pope, project manager
Fixtures & Casework: Fleetwood Fixtures, Leesport, Pa.
Signage/Graphics: US Sign & Mill Corp., Fort Myers, Fla.
Photographer: Chris Eden, Callison, Seattle