When Merrell performance footwear decided to launch its first national shop retail program in both department and specialty stores, it recognized its unique brand positioning was being able to straddle the boundaries between outdoor performance orientation and urban fashion.
Merrell, a division of Wolverine World Wide (Rockford, Mich.), worked with Columbus, Ohio-based RPA to create a customizable shop solution that equally balances urban and outdoor elements for its three different consumer segments: urban dweller, outdoor enthusiast and comfort-seeker.
Designers looked at artists like Philippe Starck and Karim Rashid, who typically work with modern, futuristic designs, and took their influence one step further. The shop uses endomorphic shapes and wraps them in softer, more natural fabrics and materials.
The "Oasis" centerpiece is loosely based on an adult version of a playground. Both a seating and a merchandising solution, the multicolored Oasis encourages shoppers to pick up and try on shoes without worrying about disrupting the display.
"The idea for the Oasis was born out of our desire to envelop the consumer in a Merrell-branded environment," says Mike Bills, president of RPA, "get them in a seated position adjacent to the shoes and pick the product up and try it on."
The shop concept also includes a freestanding fixture and wall unit. The pole system features steel rods and a variety of cube and shelf sizes, offset by cork wall paneling in orange, green, blue or tan color variations. The cube risers are lined with faux fur, while the shelving features a line of cork to offset the products. Different graphic backgrounds with outdoor imagery stand out amidst the fixture unit.
"All Merrell shoes have unique soles, with imprints like a globe or a star," says Paul Teeples, senior environmental designer. "The fixtures present the shoes in different formats - upright, straightforward and profile. This concept is about a state of mind, not about a specific demographic or geographic location."
Cork wall paneling behind the pole system is available in four color variations - orange, green, blue and tan. The Oasis is also customizable in circular or long unit configurations. Different graphic backgrounds with outdoor imagery appear within the concept.
Client: Merrell Performance Footwear, Chicago - Keith Anderson, marketing director; Sue Harvey Brown, marketing manager
Design: RPA, Columbus, Ohio - Michael Bills, president; Mark Artus, chief creative officer; David Denniston, creative director; Garrick Reischman, senior graphic designer; Paul Teeples, Bruce Shepherd, senior environmental designers; Jackie Pollok, senior strategist; Sean Bice, senior copywriter; Marie Haines, merchandise/planner; Eric Kuhn, account director; Benjamin Lamb, print production manager; Merilee Miller, project manager; Tom Wilson, implementation manager
Merrell Design Consultant: Becker Studios, Chicago (Oasis fixture)
Suppliers: Maharam, Cincinnati (fabrics); SCM, Richmond Hill, Ont. (fixtures); Duro Design, Laval, Que. (flooring); JDK, Burlington, Vt. (graphics)