Opening a new chapter in retail design

Opening a new chapter in retail design

A creative vision of a “cultural department store for book-lovers” led Canada’s largest independent bookstore to expand beyond national borders to launch its first store in the United States in Short Hills, New Jersey. This contemporary shop interior embodies a holistic design concept that attracts customers of all ages and design sensibilities. 

Interior Designer: Diego Burdi, ARIDO

Design Team: Tom Yip, ARIDO

Design Firm: Burdifilek

Photographer: Ben Rahn, A-Frame Studio

A feminine area of the store "A room of her own" with modern round display tables and display units

The creative brief for this Indigo store was clear: the experience was to become the antithesis of a traditional book store. Understanding the notion that books were just the beginning of a larger narrative to enrich our lives, our team came up with a design concept that kept the books at the heart and soul of the experience, while introducing a product mix that compartmentalized the store into several core categories. 

A more dramatic area of the store showcasing a black and white color scheme and some pops of color on shelving and posters throughout the space

By creating a cross-pollination of books and products with areas like Room Of Her Own, Joy of the Table, and Paper Shop, Indigo enables a richer narrative for the books in those categories.

To recall the rawness of space found in a contemporary art gallery, we kept the exposed ceiling, simple drywall solution and various zones throughout the interior. The palette becomes a beautiful backdrop for the product, and a handsome framework that showcases a confidence for the Indigo brand identity. 

A view of "A room of her own" feminine area of the store from the homeware section

The beauty of the design shines when entering a specific zone as everything is proportioned to resemble entering a private residence. There is a clear sense for what each department is about - in Home, there’s a fireplace and bookshelves resembling  someone’s personal library, whereas Room Of Her Own carries a more feminine, softer palette and features a beautiful apothecary unit of metal and glass. Every area and fixture is custom-designed to uphold the sensibilities of each theme.

"Joy of the table" area, the section displaying homeware with floor to ceiling wall shelving and a stunning large dining table in front of them that showcases a table setting scene

Created in response to changing consumer tastes, habits, and demands, the new Indigo experience is unlike any traditional bookstore experience in North America. The new design is not just the proverbial bookstore with bookshelves and display cabinets. Standing at the lease line of this store, there are many points of interest to attract attention. With an expert team behind the cross-merchandising around the product, Indigo was able to create a physical extension of what the joy of books is all about.

Residential look and feel-A vignette of a white book shelf with predominantly white items displayed on it, and some purple details, all resembling a built-in shelf in someone's home.

Perfecting the art of integrating books with other products is the reason for success with this concept, while also creating a platform to make the store a meeting place where the community can come together with special events, learn new skills, and enjoy a wide variety of innovative and unique lifestyle products.  

Large oversized table with chairs in the centre surrounded by walls of built-in shelves full of colourful books

The winning combination of design and programming from the client transforms the new Indigo concept into an excellent case study on how retail must evolve in order to interest the consumer. Bookstores today should offer more retail animation by complementing the core product with a lifestyle component to further engage customers. In this particular case, the product lines were carefully curated to advance the themes of the book sections and mix with the books to tell a different story and share a unique point of view.

Diego Burdi

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Diego Burdi


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