Designing Retail’s Future: Installation/ Satellite & The Less-Is-More Approach

Raul Pinto hard at work on the Installation

Raul Pinto hard at work on the Installation

When considering the overall shopping experience for the end consumer, retail design often plays a background, yet key role in the selling process. It might not be the first thing on the customer’s mind, but to shop owners, brand managers, merchandisers, marketeers and sales associates, the purchasing set-up can mean all the difference between a few tire kicks, a full-blown shopping experience, and anywhere in between.

Not only that, but as the global economy continues to shift and sustainability considerations become evermore prominent, how is sustainability factored into retail design and how do retailers balance the less desirable associations of consumerism with keeping a robust bottom line?

In the second part of our two part series on Designing Retail’s Future,  we catch up with Raul Pinto, co-owner of Boulder, Colorado’s Satellite skate and snow shop and Installation Shoe Gallery, on Installation’s most recent install and why both echo a similar sentiment- that retail design is more than just slapping around cosmetic solutions. It is, after all, a fully-integrated art form.

In an age of e-commerce, what role do you think the retail storefront has and how does retail design play into this?

The main goal is awareness. It is a showroom of what’s new out there and hopefully what’s cool and progressive. People need to see feel and touch everything, which is not something you can get online. They have the chance to see it in our environment and truly be impressed, so much so that they might just buy it on the spot.

Your new retail Installation is pretty concept-driven, but fairly simple in design. It offers the feeling of wandering an art gallery. POP and the usual merchandising indicators have been replaced with custom brand identification pieces. How do your brands feel about this?

So far, every brand has been absolutely stoked on the clean slate we have given the store, the branding is simple and follows a series of architectural rules that we established early on in the design.

Materials, dimensions, and detail allow for the newest installation to come off with that open gallery feel that lends itself to a fun shopping experience. POP is great, but to set ourselves apart from the flood of stores in the Rockies, we feel it is necessary to make sure there is no question where you should be buying your products and our customers have come to expect a certain distinction from Satellite and Installation.

What factors contributed to the inspiration or influence of the new concept?

A think tank of smart people and a lot of conversation—it went through a few major designs. Designer, Richard Angus Duff, is one of the most motivated and gifted architecture students to come out of Colorado University. Rich discovered the sisal rope and really wanted to lead the customers through a maze of sorts and the idea honed itself down to small spaces within the space, having no connection to the floor. Large, monolithic furniture pieces ground the sisal rope structures.

How have your customers responded to the new layout?

“I’ve never seen anything like this, can I take a picture?” They all love it, but it’s the same every time we change it…”this is the best one yet.” The hard part is out doing ourselves each time and keeping it within a budget. More importantly, though, sales. We have doubled our sales since the change over. Part of this is due to the quality of the installation and the other part is that it had been almost two years since the last show, “Cellular Obsession,” made of all recycled cardboard.

How often do you change the installation?

In the beginning, every six months or so with the seasons, now more like once a year. The average person only buys one pair of shoes every year, so people were missing the installations. I decided to give myself more design and development time to pull off a good show. Rich and I were so geeked on the outcome that we have like three more ideas, along with crazy materials to do another show that really makes each time you come to Installation a new experience.