Design Your Retail Space for Selfies – Board & Vellum


Design Your Retail Space for Selfies (Yes, Really.)

By Jeff Pelletier
January 31, 2019

Design your space so your customers market your business on social media for you.

Maintaining a retail business right now is damn hard. Shops and restaurants need to be special to stand out in a crowded field that includes numerous (and often inexpensive) online shopping options. One of these online marketplaces might even be based in Seattle — I’m sure you’ve never heard of it, though.

So, how do you prepare your business to do well and stand out?

Market the living the hell out of your brand and experience, and get it in front of everyone possible.

Part of that, is to create a dynamic space that sells your business like hot cakes. You want people to talk about you and your space. Build the buzz and it will help draw people to your physical location.

Instagram, in my opinion, is by far the best visual tool to do this work. Instagram is a platform of bite-sized bits of visual joy that can be tagged, searched, and seen by thousands (or millions!) of people.

The more that people want to photograph your space, or — even better perhaps — take a selfie there, the more your space gets seen and promoted, with no additional effort from you. If you make your space as much of a delight as what you’re selling, you’re more likely to get people to visit your business and actually buy things.

So how does this work? Do you just create a beautiful space and hope it works? That’s part of the solution, yes. A good design will reinforce your brand, be beautiful, and allow you to successfully highlight what you’re selling.

That said, your success on Instagram (and other image-heavy social platforms) is best positioned if you offer unique and special content.

How do you create those special moments in your space that pull people in to look at what you have?

Here are three examples from some of our projects of how we went for those moments. They should always be delightful, specific to your space, and simply be something that people want to photograph and share.

Create eye-catching structures and installaions.

For this Oasis Tea Zone project on Capitol Hill, we knew we had to pull people into the space. The actual space was a bit odd, as the counter was away from the street and down some steps. To counteract this and pull people in, we created a salvaged wood “canopy” that helps anchor the point-of-sale.

Design Your Retail Space for Selfies – Board & Vellum

We also knew, though, that it wasn’t enough. So, we proposed an art piece along the east wall of the space and eventually settled on a commissioned piece by Electric Coffin. They worked with our team to develop an awesome installation that people can’t help but look over closely and, more importantly, photograph the hell out of.

Reflect your brand in your physical space.

For Ada’s Technical Books and Café, we worked hard to ensure that their brand felt rooted in this space, rather than just inhabiting it. Part of that, was ensuring there were numerous “stand out” moments in the design that exist only here. If you could have seen us in our design studio laughing and jumping up and down with excited ideas, you would have thought we were crazy when we came up with them.

Use some salvaged doors as a feature wall that sandwiches an LED light display? Sure. Salvage all of the framing lumber and create display tops for the fun stuff they sell at Ada’s? Why not? Seal pages of old technical manuals into plexiglass and assemble them into a mobile around a dumb-simple light? HELL YES!

Design Your Retail Space for Selfies – Board & Vellum

That special mobile is one of my favorite things in that space. And if you look carefully enough, you might even find some surprise architectural drawings in there.

Pay attention to all the surfaces, including the ceiling.

For the Dough Zone project down in the International District, we worked to ensure that all surfaces of the space were worthy photo backdrops.

Design Your Retail Space for Selfies – Board & Vellum

Working carefully, we designed some felt dots that line the ceiling. They form a fun backdrop that both inspires selfies, and helps identify the space when shared.

Design Your Retail Space for Selfies – Board & Vellum

For a feature accent wall, this face composed of giant “pixels” inspires selfies that mimic it. People love sharing selfies. Your goal is to get them to share selfies with your (recogizable) retail space in the background.

Fun details such as these are going to help your space stand out in a crowded and ever-changing retail environment. To be successful in the retail realm, you need to use all the means at your disposal — especially great design — to ensure that you stand out and are rewarded with sales.

As always, we’re happy to help dream with you on your next retail opportunity. We may even take a selfie in it when we’re all said and done.

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