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Midwestern Auto Group (MAG)

Dublin, Ohio

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Sensing that car shoppers dread the task of buying a new car, the Midwestern Auto Group (MAG) wanted to reinvent the entire experience in its Dublin, Ohio, showroom. MAG's distinction lies in the capacity to sell 11 European auto brands under one roof. They looked to Fitch Inc. (Worthington, Ohio) to create a personal atmosphere and their own MAG brand. Knowing MAG's target market is passionate about driving, Fitch set out to reflect enthusiasm in the design of the 80,000-square-foot facility. Brands are displayed in three “pods” that make sense to the consumers: Volkswagen/Audi; BMW; and the super luxury models that include Lotus, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Porsche, Rolls Royce and Bentley. In this last pod, the emphasis is placed on refinement.

A large painting of a thoroughbred racehorse in a thick mahogany frame is placed at the entrance. Parts of the flooring are mosaic tiled to invoke a rich, elegant feeling, like the walkway of a grand manor home. Cars are also parked on faux cobblestone, another romantic touch, to inspire fantasies about exploring scenic villages in this fine, European automobile. The VW/Audi section taps into the brands'fun image. The most striking visual elements are a series of chrome-overlaid hoods — actual car bonnets from different models of Audis and VWs — suspended from the ceiling. The bright, primary colors of the cars below dance in the reflection of these mirrored mobiles. A large graphic that reads, “objects are closer than they appear,” is adorned with an assortment of rear-view mirrors. From the ceiling hovers a 20-foot-long, “simulated sun roof” installation. Looking up, a visitor is treated to the image of a New York City skyscape. During its first months after reopening, MAG owners reported sales at an “exceptionally high volume.” MAG noted this period included December, typically the worst sales month in the year. It would seem customers don't have any trouble imagining themselves in the driver's seat.

Design: Fitch Inc., Worthington, Ohio — Mark Artus, project manager and creative director; Stuart Hunter, Pam Dull, Jacquie Richmond and Kathleen Goode, designers; Randal Skall, implementation Outside Design Consultants: Karlsberger Cos., Columbus, Ohio (architects) Suppliers: Excell Store Fixtures, Toronto (fixtures); Aperture Works, Boston (graphics vendor); Lighting Management, New York City (lighting); DesignCrete Inc., Columbus, Ohio (flooring) Photography: Mark Steele, Fitch Inc., Worthington, Ohio

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