Simpler Things

Sometimes it is the simpler things that inspire me. When it comes to retail design, I have always embraced a “less is more” philosophy. There is something to love about a clean, white box—pure minimalism. However, recently while attending a wedding at the Blue Dress Barn in Michigan, I found myself pondering the question—maybe it is not always modern minimalism that is more, but that simplicity can be more as well. Take for example the Blue Dress Barn, a restored dairy barn in which every detail was understated, yet rich in craft, authenticity and experience.

Images via City Portal and Wedding Mapper

The coat rack had a clever, inviting sign. The soffit above the bar was constructed from old turned wood pieces and the table setting was mere objects one could find around the house.  The simplicity of the environment allowed everyone to embrace the experience of the ceremony.

Great retail brands, such as Anthropologie and Timberland have been embracing simplicity in the familiar and the found object for years, allowing the consumer to make that personal connection with the brand.  This past winter’s Nau pop-up shop in NYC combined found objects and readily available materials to create an engaging shopping experience and a deeper connection with the brand all within a short store lifespan.

Images via Creative Kismet, Dexigner, and Cool Hunting

It is an interesting paradox that in this technology driven, yet fiscally responsible time, the simple and familiar may be a standing trend.  I found it timely after attending this “wedding in a barn”, that the WWD issue that arrived the following Tuesday (August 17th) had an excerpt entitled: “Fall’s Color: Harvest”. The article states that “consumers are being economical when it comes to the colors they wear, sticking with similar shades from one season to the next so as not to have to overhaul their wardrobes…We (WWD) are also seeing an interest in simplified living. As a society, we’re being forced to look inward…This translates to an appreciation for colors achieved through a more natural process….carrot orange, brick red, and golden yellow.”

Fall 2010’s forecasted colors seem simple, approachable and warm….much like the Blue Dress Barn experience. If some consumers, like myself, find themselves searching for simplicity and authenticity in these current economic times will retail follow suit?

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