by Rachel 03 October 2011
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    Klein Dytham designs new retail concept for Sony

    Sony recently commissioned Klein Dytham Architects (KDa) to totally reconceive the design of their retail stores around the globe. They wanted a system that would unify their one hundred stores, but that could adjust to local conditions. The first new store has just been completed in Los Angeles, and KDa's system will soon be rolled out internationally.

    KDa sought to make the shop exterior more open and approachable, and also wanted it to be reminiscent of Sony's products. Within a façade of brushed aluminum panels, KDa conceived the shop front as a gateway or portal - a subtle reference to the frame around video monitors. The black anodized aluminum frame wraps around a set of glass doors that can slide away and stack like Japanese shoji screens, allowing the storefront to completely open up. The frame's 900mm-deep reveal also creates a space to window shop after hours.

    Needing to ensure construction was straightforward for the global roll out, KDa kept the shell of the interior very simple. Compressed bamboo flooring creates visual warmth, gives springiness underfoot, and adds a hint of Japan.

    The store's sidewalls have been lined with a standardized system of fabric-covered acoustic panels. One wall has been paneled in black and white - the color there comes from images on the video screens displayed along its length. The other sidewall brings in the fun - these panels follow a color gradation that recalls the RGB spectrum of the video screen test pattern.The panels have a very functional role: they discretely conceal wiring and create different acoustic qualities in each zone to suit the products on display. They also inject some fun: held in place by magnets the panels can be quickly reconfigured to adjust the colors to suit changing marketing requirements or even seasons - the red panels will be moved to the front of the store at Christmas time!

    KDa designed the furniture, produced from Corian, to 'disappear' so the products are hero - but also to support their clever new system for visual merchandising. The tabletops are covered with 600 x 600 x 25mm tiles that are topped with a removable merchandising graphic and drilled with holes that permit wires to be theaded out of sight. This standardization means tiles can be moved around or replaced very quickly, which both allows Sony HQ to control the way products are displayed and gives flexibility to rearrange the tiles as new products arrive in store. About 40% of the store's stock is stored in cabinets and under the tables - this allows sales to be handled quickly without a time-consuming trip to the stock room.

    A second store had just opened in Toronto with other stores opening in the US, Brazil, Argentina and Chile in the coming months.

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