CallisonRTKL wants stores to go back to the way they used to be — visually exciting.
The global architecture and design firm has formed a new visual merchandising service for its clients.
“Visual merchandising is more important than ever in the retail environment. It’s time to bring back the magic of the retail experience,” said Ignaz Gorischek, who recently joined the retail design group of CallisonRTKL as vice president and will be leading the new unit. Gorischek, who has more than 30 years in the profession, was vice president of store design and visual merchandising at Neiman Marcus and earlier worked at the former Burdines chain.
CallisonRTKL’s new visual merchandising service will include window and interior presentation, art selection and curation, and pop-ups, both in-store and free-standing.
CallisonRTKL, part of the Arcadis network, specializes in department store, luxury and specialty retail markets, and its portfolio includes nationally and internationally known brands such as Nordstrom, Pottery Barn, REI, AT&T, Cole Haan, Charming Charlie, Hugo Boss and Bloomingdale’s. Visual merchandising is not a traditional focus among design firms, Gorischek said.
“In a nutshell, we are trying to bring some excitement back into retail,” Gorischek said. “When I first started in this business it was called display, not visual merchandising. It was really about theater. We were literally creating stage sets in the store though display techniques. These would change often, every six to eight weeks. Anywhere you went into the store you would have these vignettes projecting an experience, a lifestyle, to inspire the consumer to make the purchase.”
Gorischek has a mantra: “excite, entertain and educate” — ingredients that help create an experience.”It’s not a silver bullet for retailers, but there is a lot of sameness out there. It’s time to break the mold.”
He also has a 50-foot rule for department stores: “Plan a visual statement every 50 feet that would make you slow down or stop, or visually connect with something. By doing this, making these visual connecting points, the customer weaves through the store without necessarily realizing it.”
Gorischek said when there were many more department store nameplates in the U.S., there was much more differentiation, but consolidation has homogenized the sector. “When there were many different department stores, they all had their own look.”
Aside from the consolidation factor, stores have cut back on their visual displays as part of cost-cutting initiatives, Gorischek added.
For the new service, it won’t just be a one-man Gorischek show. He said he’ll be bringing in talent, both in-house and on a project basis. “We’ll take a temperature of what the need is, evaluate the visual in place, make recommendations and help craft a very specific solution, a very customized experience. We are not looking to create a one size fit all. I will be curating it, based on what need is, and bringing in appropriate talent with different skill sets.”