TAKING into account space, function and style, retail designers work to create multi-faceted retail outlets that establish product branding and point of difference from street frontage through to the interior.
To date, retail design in Perth has lagged behind other cities, with many local proprietors slow to recognise the benefits a well-conceived retail design can bring to their businesses.
Bucking this trend is local designer Carol-Ann Cassidy, who recently became the first Western Australian-based designer to win the Inside Magazine best retail design award.
Ms Cassidy’s design of the Carbon Chemistry of Diamonds Shop in Rockeby Road, Subiaco, won her the gong.
The striking jewellery store has also won awards from Dulux and The Australian Design Institute.
Western Australia may be behind in its use of high street design, but Ms Cassidy said this was slowly changing as people began to recognise that they could maximise performance by incorporating design into their business outlets.
She said there was a direct correlation between design and business benefits, as good design attracted more business.
“Those who truly understand design will take you places.”
Carbon Chemistry of Diamonds Shop principal Marie Georgia said the store had recently completed its first year and that its performance had been better than expected.
Ms Georgia said that, unlike most shop fit-out options, which usually last up to three years, she expected the Carbon fitout to last much longer due to its simple minimalist look and other practical features.
Ms Georgia and her business partner, Dee Taylor, have been involved in the jewellery industry since they were teenagers and have always aimed to create a different look for their first store.
“We wanted it to be opening and comfortable for all sorts of people,” Ms Georgia said.
“We wanted to sell a beautiful product and the store goes hand in hand with that.”
Ms Cassidy said her aim in the project was to create a style and longevity in look to establish the Carbon brand.
“If someone is buying a diamond ring it is usually a once-in-a-lifetime event,” she said.
Ms Cassidy said the aim of the store was to achieve an elegant look that was also comfortable enough to let customers linger.
And although the State was lagging in retail design, Ms Cassidy told WA Business News that some of the design work being done in hotels and restaurants in WA was world leading.
Impressions director Ross Sta Maria agreed that Perth had some good examples of design in the hospitality industry, but said there was some way to go before the industry lost its “self-consciousness”.
Mr Sta Maria said Perth’s population was too small to offer retailers the security that their investment would provide returns in increased clientele.
He said it was up to designers to push the business benefits that retail or hospitality design could create, such as increasing clientele.
“It creates a focal point and attracts clientele; people like to be seen in good-looking places,” Mr Sta Maria said. “Proprietors don’t quite understand this.”
While many designers had “done a lot of things to death”, he said Australian designers had the scope to create original design.
Designer Anton Phillpe said the bulk of retail design work was coming from the eastern States with major franchises setting up shop in Perth.
Mr Phillpe said that, due to the dollar driven nature of boutique shops in WA, the industry was yet to embrace retail design.
“Generally speaking, boutiques need more pizazz in terms of lighting design,” he said.
“I think retail design sets up where you are coming from and what place you are aiming for.”
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