The Forum Shops at Caesars, Las Vegas
What happens when lingerie and Rabbit Head cuff links mix with the bright lights and "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" attitude of Sin City? A new playpen for Playboy that is as fun and sexy as the brand wants itself to be.
Playboy Enterprises Inc. (Chicago) debuted its new store concept in The Forum Shops at Caesars in Las Vegas this past spring. For decades, the 52-year-old company has been trying to establish itself as a lifestyle brand through its line of licensed fashion and consumer products, which includes men's and women's fashions, accessories, lingerie, home furnishings and collectibles.
Historically, when Playboy magazine was seen as the guiding authority on the hipster lifestyle, telling readers around the world how to dress, live and act, its merchandise was dismissed as cheesy and unsophisticated. However, continuing expansion of the merchandise and shifts in the marketplace have today's customers, including celebrities, flocking to buy Rabbit Head T-shirts and White Label lingerie, while serious collectors are jumping at the chance to own Playboy memorabilia, including a pair of Hef's slippers. (A vintage bunny suit will cost you $35,000.) Today, Playboy's licensed products business generates more than $500 million in global retail sales.
The problem was the company had little control over how that merchandise was being presented to customers since the majority of its licensed merchandise was being sold in shop-in-shop environments. So the company sought a store concept that was contemporary and sexy and captured the brand's history.
"We wanted something that someone walked into and said 'Wow, I didn't know Playboy did this,' " says Aaron Duncan, creative director and senior vp, licensing group, for Playboy Enterprises.
Playboy worked with WalkerGroup (New York) to create a store template that would resonate with the brand and its followers. "Playboy means a lot of things to a lot of people," says Jay Valgora, design principal for WalkerGroup. "So they wanted a signature design that could be transplanted across the globe."
To understand the essence of the brand, designers met with ceo Christie Hefner and visited the Playboy mansion and grotto in Los Angeles. These efforts inspired the design of the 2000-square-foot retail prototype, which Valgora describes as a modern architectural translation of the brand. For instance, zebrawood evokes the paneling at the Playboy mansion and provides a sharp contrast to the contemporary white lacquer fixturing. The custom checkout counter, comprised of white stone suspended in resin, recalls the famous mansion grotto – a recognizable icon of the Playboy brand.
Obviously inspired by the ample amounts of skin shown on the pages of its magazine, designers used a skin-tone palette of colors throughout the space. A standalone lingerie area evokes the sexiness of the brand with sheer draperies, a chandelier, carpeting and mirrored tile and quilted walls.
No Playboy environment would be complete without the iconic Rabbit Head logo. Yet, here, designers, in true Vegas-fashion, added a twist, frosting it into mirrors or using the shape of the bunny ear as the profile of the floor fixturing.
Just as its magazine is a destination for readers across the globe, Playboy is making its stores one, too, by hosting events, including poker tournaments and, of course, visits by Playmates. With three stores slated to open every year for the next three years, fans of the Playboy lifestyle will have plenty of opportunities to indulge.
Client: Waikiki Trader Group, Honolulu
Jim Geiger, president
Al Cottral, ceo, cfo
Frank Crowley, vp
Design: WalkerGroup, New York
Jay Valgora, design principal
Miho Koshido, studio director
Craig LaRosa, studio director
Mohamed Gabr, designer
Kasey Watt, graphic designer
Emy Gargiulo, graphic designer
Architect: ids architects inc., Honolulu, Hawaii
Sanford T. Hasegawa, principal
Brian K. Fujiwara, principal architect
Adolph Yago, project manager
General Contractor: Quality Choice Construction, Las Vegas
Outside Design Consultant: SCA Design, Hendersen, Nev.
Sheldon Colen, principal architect
Vivian Doctora, project coordinator
Fixtures, Furniture, Signage/Graphics, Wallcoverings and Materials: Redwood Interior PTE Ltd., Singapore
Flooring: Dal-Tile, Las Vegas
Lighting: RSA Lighting/Cooper Lighting, Chatsworth, Calif.
Mannequins/Forms: Adel Rootstein USA Inc., New York
Props and Decoratives: ALU, New York
Signage/Graphics: Sign Express, Las Vegas
Photography: Eric Laignel, New York