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Independents Day Competition

Seven Acclaimed Projects Show Resourcefulness, Efficiency



For the second straight year, VM+SD held a design competition for independent retailing (defined by the National Retail Federation as having annual revenues of $5 million or less). The magazine's editors deemed the following seven entrants worthy of honor, based on their inventive answers to problems and objectives – especially those specific to independent retailers (budget, space, time and availability of resources).

Here are our 2002 Independents Day firecrackers:

After a Fashion

Fashion Statement is a small, independent, classic-yet-contemporary specialty apparel store in upscale Wyckoff, N.J. “The typical female Wyckoff resident is a stay-at-home mom in her 40s,” says owner Sheryl Brian, “active in her children's school and other activities. She's affluent, college-educated, physically fit and has sophisticated taste in clothing, decorating and dining.”


The design objective for Englewood, N.J., architect David Kepron was to create a unique, “classic contemporary” flair, an environment that's bright and clean, and a backdrop for multiple vendors.

Kepron called his design concept “eclectic-chic,” contrasting the textural qualities of rich surface materials (crushed velvet, faux finishes and decorative metals) with clean geometries and light steel and wood details.

Large feature walls were created to merchandise goods in front of the windows. Elliptical tables allow for the possibility of bulk-folded presentations and also promote uninterrupted views through the space to the perimeter walls. Existing columns were utilized as vertical merchandisers.

Client Team: Fashion Statement, Wyckoff, N.J. – Sheryl Brian, owner

Design Team: Kepron Architect, Englewood, N.J. – David Kepron, Brian James, Will Tolentino, Lu Kepron


Outside Consultant: Glen Gray Construction, Mahwah, N.J. (general contractor)

Suppliers: MG Concepts, Central Islip, N.Y., B&N Industries, San Carlos, Calif. (fixtures); Chemetal, Easthampton, Mass. (laminates); sevencontinents, Toronto (mannequins); Barsouv, New York (fabrics)

Andrea Brizzi, New York

The Old College Fly

Licensed college apparel meets airport retailing in this new concept called UThreads at San Francisco International Airport.

California's top universities sought a market for their apparel, gifts and souvenirs in one of America's fastest-growing retail sectors – the travelers between planes, heading for planes or waiting out interminable security delays.


According to Ellen Schumm, principal of Tsao Design Group (San Francisco), “among the design objectives was to create retailing that was not just another T-shirt store. The merchandise is high-quality athletic and sports fashion goods from Russell Athletic and Gear for Sports, plus desk accessories, neckwear, watches and diploma frames.”

On a more practical level, Tsao Design had to create a store that was durable (“airport traffic is brutal!”), efficient (“airport stores are small”) and economical (“we had a very limited design and construction budget”).

“The finishes, fixtures and integrated graphics create a distinctive atmosphere,” Schumm says. “Architecture and graphics use a finish and materials palette – natural maple, stained concrete, whites and browns – that complements the typically vibrant collegiate merchandise.”

Using standard hardware, the fixtures are adaptable to both hard- and soft-line products. Sliding panels in the perimeter millwork, with storage shelving behind, maximize stock area. And plastic and wood veneer laminates protect the fixture edges from damage due to rolling luggage.

Client Team: UThreads, San Francisco – Maryann Mohn, Fred Piccirilli, owners

Design Team: Tsao Design Group, San Francisco – Ellen Schumm, project principal; Martin Oestlund, project designer; Allyson Kovas, graphic designer

Outside Consultants: P. L. Annuzzi Inc., Burlingame, Calif. (general contractor); S.F. Lighting Design, San Francisco (lighting); Encon, Los Altos, Calif. (mechanical/electrical engineer)

Suppliers: Arnold and Egan, San Francisco (fixtures); Construction and Audio Services, San Rafael, Calif. (audio/video); Millennium Display, Hempstead, N.Y., Golden Gate Sign, San Francisco (graphics); Ardex Engineered Cements, Coraopolis, Pa. (stained concrete flooring)

Tom Rider, Petaluma, Calif.



Embracing Whole-Brained Thinking in the Design Journey

Strategy needs creative, and creative needs strategy—yep, having both is really the only way of unifying all disciplines with a common vernacular with an eye toward building a strong creative vision that is foundational to the processes. Hear from Bevan Bloemendaal, former VP, Global Environments & Creative Services at Timberland, how to connect the dots between disciplines, claiming and creating a clear differentiation for the brand and ensuring that any asset (experience, product, ad, store, office, home, video, game) is created with intention.

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