Renowned architect Richard Rogers, known for his modernist and functionalist designs, has cynically said that the primary aesthetic principle of our times is “form follows profit.” And, sadly, in many cases this is true. Designing spaces for commercial and retail clients has too often become only about boosting sales and moving product.
And while architects – good architects, anyway – work hard to understand the important interaction between design and business goals, I’d argue that this bottom-line-only approach is at best only one piece of the overall design equation, and at worst is short-sighted and detrimental to continued business growth. (Especially given the market share brick-and-mortar stores have been losing to online e-tailers.)
Hold on a second, you say. Just wait a minute. Aren’t you still in your first year at KOMA? Fresh from college? What do you know about sales, bottom lines and business growth?
These are fair points. I am still fairly new to KOMA… I’ve been here just eight months. And I’ll freely admit that I don’t know it all. But our approach to retail design here at KOMA resonates strongly with me, and the success of the architects and designers I work alongside suggests our more holistic philosophy makes sense.
At KOMA, we consider retail design from a number of angles. And, to be fair, sales revenue is one of them. (We certainly utilize design concepts that help nudge the customer toward making a buying decision.) But we also spend time considering people… customers, employees, vendors and others who will utilize the space. What do we know about these groups? What impact do we want to make on them? The fact is that often two or more groups will utilize the finished space at the same time, but for very different purposes. Can the design accommodate this fact?
Another element we consider carefully in our design efforts is that of the client’s brand. Steve Iaria and Cindy Nagel – both of whom I work with closely – are especially talented at understanding a client’s brand and then translating it to the visual design. From reinforcing obvious graphic elements and colors to conveying less tangible components like personality, style and mood, our viewpoint is that it is in our client’s best interest to create a distinctive – and memorable – impression on visitors.
At KOMA, our team – that is, our entire team, from our engineers to our designers – recognizes and appreciates that no project is one-dimensional. And while there is almost always a bottom-line consideration to the work we do, there are also nearly always other, similarly important angles to consider.
Not bad for the new kid, hungh?