Album Art (The Best of 2011)

As MMXI comes to a close, we're counting the days to MMXII and checking out all the albums on Pitchfork's Top Albums of 2011 annual list. Design inspiration comes from so many places and that definitely includes our favorite jams. So today's post is in honor of some of the most inspiring album art we found on the list.

Numbered in no particular order (and then shown in random order) above...
1. Cults Cults because we want to shop where they shop
2. Panda Bear Tomboy because screenprints, band Ts and feathered bangs ARE COOL
3. Jay-Z & Kanye West Watch the Throne because wherever this is is where we want to be
4. Clams Casino Instrumentals because it's pretty
5. Kurt Vile Smoke Ring For My Halo because it's pretty and the blinds look like a SKU
6. St. Vincent Strange Mercy because it's provocative
7. Fleet Foxes Helplessness Blues because it's whimsical
8. Julianna Barwick The Magic Place because it looks warm and earthy
9. Wild Flag Wild Flag because it's a splash of color

And by the way, Happy New Year! Looking forward to new projects and new inspirations in 2012.


KRS Releases White Paper

“Understanding Today’s Shopper: The Epicurean Miser” decodes the opposing motivations of today’s consumer and lays the groundwork for retailers to create a value-based environment their customers will look forward to visiting again and again.

Leading retail design firm, King Retail Solutions (KRS), announced today the release of its most recent white paper.

“Understanding Today’s Shopper: The Epicurean Miser” cites both statistical and empirical evidence showing that shoppers, while still frugal, are poised to treat themselves to some of the finer things once again, with some caveats that reflect today’s economy.

The paper suggests tactics as to how retailers can strategically appeal to a customer who believes they shouldn’t spend too much and at the same time wants to feel like they’re indulging in some of the niceties they’ve been denying during this economic downturn.

To view “Understanding Today’s Shopper: The Epicurean Miser” online, visit: http://kingrs.com/whitepaper/epicureanmiser.pdf .


Digital Signage: Thinking Outside the Bezel

The Platt Retail Institute released its Quarterly Journal of Retail Analytics on Monday.

KRS' design manager, Tim McCall, contributed the article "Digital Signage: Thinking Outside the Bezel" which begins on page 22 of the Journal.

In the above illustration, part of a retail design project KRS is working on with the University of Oregon that includes incorporating digital signage into the menu board d├ęcor at eateries such as sushi/coffee and pasta bars, the digital element is just one part of a much larger overall design project, illustrating KRS' holistic approach as outlined in the article.

Tim's article includes a handy checklist of digital signage best practices: important “beyond the bezel” considerations for retailers looking to deploy digital signage with maximum impact.


Not So Mellow Yellow

Don't call us mopey. On the contrary, we are beyond un-mopey about this season of thick textiles, over-the-top department store window displays and Starbucks peppermint mocha. But come on, grey skies, give us a break. Not mopey... but just sayin.

If we may be so bold as to butcher a quote from e.e. cummings, "we think we too may have known autumn too long." So today our inspiration comes from the sun, with a bold, yellow aesthetic that snubs its nose at grey skies.

The Yellow Building, London (source)

Arne Jacobsen “Egg” chair (source)

Chihuly chandelier (source)

Ok, feeling better now.


Happy Halloween From KRS

Nothing howls, "Halloween awoooo!" more ghoulishly than Beetlejuice, Wolf Man and a beaming Keg (of rootbeer, obviously) gathered around for a pumpkin-carving contest. Well, unless you turn around to spot your friendly neighborhood Anarchist sipping apple cider with the world's flyest Disco Diva. Yes, anarchists sip.

We could go on and on. KRS' annual Halloween party brought out the best in our awesome team of freaks and geeks.


KRS Does C-Store Design Differently

Our design for Murphy Express won honorable mention for Best Interior Design in the Convenience Store News 2011 Store Design Awards Competition.

Consumer research supported our concept that the typical "Louder is Better" c-store mantra no longer worked. KRS proposed a new design concept, "Contemporary Americana", which would provide Murphy's weary customers a welcomed respite from daily life - in contrast to many of today's c-stores that feature bright colors and overwhelming visual stimuli. The concept proved to be a hit with Murphy's customers - from the recognized "bubba" demographic, to moms, professionals, road warriors, and kids alike.

Convenience Store News Announcement


Walmart Must be Authentic in Portland Push

Walmart is pushing to enter new markets in a big way. Recently reported is their planned push to open up additional stores in the Portland, OR market. The Morning News Beat has a good article about Walmart's plans.

Another giant discount chain has seen huge success in Portland, Aldi owned Trader Joe's. Many of the most vocal anti-Walmart Portland shoppers would be shocked to know that Trader Joe's is actually a very successful rebranding of the typical Aldi store format. To Aldi's credit they have kept Trader Joe's brand unique and consistent at many levels. The decor, dress code, product selection, and price point, is all very relaxed. It speaks well to the Portland community (it's difficult to find an empty parking spot at any Trader Joe's in Oregon).

For Walmart to succeed in this same market, they must do more than just roll out a small format store with chalkboard signs, and nicely packaged product. They must also have a congruent plan for product selection, marketing/advertising, and hiring/training staff.

Shoppers can sniff out a fake, and with Trader Joe's, nobody cares that Aldi owns them because they are authentically different than Aldi's other formats. At every level. Walmart needs to do the same to reach the most vocal Portland shoppers.


Supermarket of the Year

Two of our designs were recognized by Chain Store Age in their "Store-of-the-Year" Design Competition (March, 2011 issue). Our design for Lakeview Grocery (Robert Fresh Market) in New Orleans, LA was selected as the best supermarket design. The design we completed for Calgary Co-op was selected for honorable mention.

In Robert Fresh Market's Lakeview store, KRS provided touches of nostalgia using a '50s inspired color palette and hand-lettered signage that harkens back to simpler times, when store associates would provide personal recommendations to neighborhood customers.

The store design concept for Canadian grocer Calgary Co-op was modeled after 19th century classical designs used in the region's grand hotels. Architectural elements were juxtaposed to offer a modern interpretation of classical concept, providing the customer with a unique journey.

Complete Chain Store Age Article
Complete KRS Press Release