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The search for that perfect shade of gloss, foundation or blush is never-ending. So, in 1996, after a challenge to find the ideal lipstick for her clients, makeup artist Mary Swaab brought the cosmetics lab to the counter with a system that could create custom lip shades in any texture.

From there, Swaab launched Colorlab Custom Cosmetics. Now the brand is coloring Chicago’s Armitage Avenue with its first U.S. boutique.

Designed by Wells Design Group LLC (Bartlett, Ill.), Colorlab features a fresh white backdrop for the walls, floors and ceiling, dotted with accents of candy pink, purple and blue that reflect the brightness of the product and packaging.

“Soft neutrals and unique textures were used to create a contrasting backdrop to the vivid colors that dominate Colorlab’s identity,” says Kent Wells, principal of Wells Design.

Circular ceiling “clouds” over each makeup station feature customized LED lighting and mirror circles of cranberry-colored carpet below.

Emphasizing the brand’s personalization, playful graphics printed on the walls say “fresh-made” and “custom-blended” and ask, “what’s your makeup?”


Client: Colorlab Custom Cosmetics, Chicago – Mary Swaab, ceo/founder; Andrew Yeager, senior vp, sales and marketing; Justine Markese, senior brand manager; Lisa Shomo, project coordinator

Design: Wells Design Group LLC, Bartlett, Ill. – Kent Wells, principal; Meg Boyle, senior designer; Cynthia Passarelli, senior designer

General Contractor: Finnegan Development, Prospect Heights, Ill.

Fixtures: Specialty Woodworking Inc., Bedford Park, Ill.

Flooring: Mid-America Tile, Mundelein, Ill.

Signage/Graphics: Vision Integrated Graphics, Chicago.

Charlie Mayer Photography, Oak Park, Ill.




MasterClass: ‘Re-Sparkling’ Retail: Using Store Design to Build Trust, Faith and Brand Loyalty

HOW CAN WE EMPOWER and inspire senior leaders to see design as an investment for future retail growth? This session, led by retail design expert Ian Johnston from Quinine Design, explores how physical stores remain unmatched in the ability to build trust, faith, and loyalty with your customers, ultimately driving shareholder value.

Presented by:
Ian Johnston
Founder and Creative Director, Quinine Design

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