The Garden Shop at Chicago’s Botanic Garden has long been known for its strengths in plan science, conservation, research and education. Where it needed improvement was in its presentation, merchandising and revenue-generating design.
Charles Sparks + Co. (Westchester, Ill.) teamed up with the Garden’s staff to redefine the retail environment using product stories crafted around its plants and garden merchandise. A central “esplanade” acts as the defined customer path, engaging visitors with nested table groupings in warm wood, each with a different story of themed products. Natural light from the building’s panoramic windows and the Garden grounds’ lush views provide a backdrop for the merchandise groupings.
Mission-style casework and tables in earthy wood finishes reflects nature. For subtle, soft color, a graphic frieze runs along the upper wall and links the space in what the firm’s president and ceo Charles Sparks calls “a unified visual voice.”
Client: Chicago Botanic Garden Shop, Glencoe, Ill. – Sophia Siskel, president and ceo; Barbara Whitney Carr, former president and ceo; William W. Brown, vp of facilities and planning; Kris S. Jarantoski, executive vp and director; Barbara Voss, store manager; Zina Castañuela, design manager
Design: Charles Sparks + Co., Westchester, Ill. – Charles Sparks, president and ceo; Stan Weisbrod, project manager; Rachel Mikolajczyk, director, resource studio; Stephanie Arakawa-Moore, director, graphic communications
Architect: SJW & Associates, Westchester, Ill.
General Contractor: Featherstone Inc., Downers Grove, Ill.
Outside Design Consultants: Brown & Associates Inc., Lincolnwood, Ill. (project management); Grumman/Butkus Associates, Evanston, Ill. (MP engineer);
Dickerson Engineering, Niles, Ill. (electrical engineer)
Fixtures: Custom Commercial Environments, Lincolnshire, Ill.
Area Rugs: Ombre Inc., Evanston, Ill.
Wall Coverings: Thybony Wallcoverings, Chicago
Paint: Benjamin Moore Paints, Melrose Park , Ill.
Wood Selections: R.S. Bacon Veneer, Burr Ridge, Ill.
Plastic Laminates: Parkwood, Chicago; Wilsonart Intl. Inc., Cincinnati; Formica Corp, Wheeling, Ill.
Fabric: Knoll Textiles, Chicago; Nathan Chapin Ltd., Chicago
Glass: Twin City Creative Mirror, Burnsville, Minn.; Griffin Resource Group, Chicago
Special Materials: Architectural Systems, New York; 3Form, New Lenox, Ill.
Photography: Charlie Mayer Photography, Oak Park, Ill.