Meet The Minds Behind Our Store Design | Neighborhood Goods

Meet The Minds Behind Our Store Design

Written By: Devin Williams-McCrary

Published on September 21, 2020

If you’ve ever been into Neighborhood Goods, you know that it’s not like most stores. The reason for that shift in atmosphere is thanks to brilliant minds like Mari and Marisa. Mari is our Visual Director and focuses on plants and lines, and is the queen of hidden talents. Marisa, our Store Design Director, thinks up the massive fixtures that display products, lights, materials- you name it. She also has recently taken up quartz hunting in Oklahoma, so if you see her in the store, and you’re especially nice, she might give you a gift.

Design is one of those things that is often appreciated but the process is easily overlooked. We wanted to talk with Mari and Marisa about the thought and research that went into designing our stores. From the historical research that went into the color of our Chelsea Market floors to the consideration of how the size of a plant will affect the “visual eye,” read on to discover the wonderful backstory behind our stores’ design. 

Mari and Marisa, working on the build out of our South Congress location. 

What makes each store unique to the city it’s in?

Marisa: When I was looking at South Congress, I was trying to identify the different types of stores there. I did think about how Legacy West feels almost like what Legacy West as a whole is. Everything is big and new and clean. Boeing’s there and it felt very spacious but the volumes were really large.

Chelsea Market speaks to a lot of the materials incorporated in the history of the building since it used to be a factory. Bringing in the black floors and the black steel was almost a reverse approach to everything we had done before [at Legacy West]. There isn’t that much natural light so we brought in Durat to bring in this speckled, candy-like aspect to the industrial. This made it sweeter in a way so it didn’t feel overly masculine. It’s still heavier than our other locations but it does feel distinctly Chelsea Market, in my opinion.

Before and after pictures of Chelsea Market.

For Austin, we almost did an outside-in approach where, instead of leaving the walls clean like we did at Legacy West, we started building into the walls in creating those niches. It feels a bit more residential in a way. We thought about how people design their homes in Austin and of course we’re influenced by Liz Lambert and her aesthetic down there but we didn’t want it to feel like a tangent of her’s. It was an opportunity to think about Austin and a fresh approach from our language and having clean lines and natural, neutral materials. It feels like a nice tangent with our poppy colors and our branding. It offsets it and doesn’t make it feel so Willy Wonka… esque. 

“It was an opportunity to think about Austin and a fresh approach from our language and having clean lines and natural, neutral materials.” 

Wall niches at South Congress.

Mari: Long-story-short: they’re all different. They’re all dynamic. That really leaves the visual merchandising piece to be the same but different, really.

What has been your approach to greenery in the different stores?

Mari: Working closely with Marisa, it’s evolved from store to store. First, overall, greenery is important to have all the time. It warms up products like no vase, no tray, can, and it really makes that shopping moment more intimate. We lean heavily on that as our recurring prop, if you will. We have a fantastic brand partner in Chelsea Market that’s helped us get littles on the shelves, Urbanstems, and we’re looking to grow that aesthetic in Austin.

“First, overall, greenery is important to have all the time. It warms up products like no vase, no tray, can, and it really makes that shopping moment more intimate.”

Marisa: In Legacy West, we worked from the top and down and quickly realized our rule of thumb with faux greenery is to only use it above where you can reach because you tell that it’s not real. If you integrate it with live greenery then it feels holistic. But if you can touch it, it should not be faux. We did buy a crap-ton of faux for Chelsea Market but we haven’t put it out because when we did, it felt like a weird gift shop because of the lighting and lack of natural lighting. We ended up just going with live. 

The front windows at Chelsea Market.

And then, in Austin, we kinda just went ground up. We don’t have anything hanging, making it look like a larger volume and it’s a different approach to the environment- once again making it feel more residential. 

Mari: To speak to why it makes it feel warmer you have to speak to the concept of lines. When you’re talking apparel or really any product, those are really fixed forms but greenery is an opportunity to get a different line for the visual eye.

Marisa: [chuckling] And it’s like alive… 

Mari: Yeah! And that’s nice because it warms up the space and doesn’t feel like a fabrication or something generated. It feels like something that’s been there for a long time. So, it makes it feel like we’re welcoming these brands to “our home,” that’s something that resonates with shoppers as more genuine.

Marisa: And it’s like our neutral language. It’s our environment and it feels like it can accept whatever since it’s our home.

Greenery in Legacy West.

Were there any challenges that you encountered when you were building out a store?

Marisa: Chelsea Market was a puzzle but it was really fun because there were so many restrictions that you were almost given the parameters to work within. It was a super fun exercise that I really enjoyed solving and came together really quick. I think the other side of the spectrum is Austin: it’s a giant space and we’re trying to create something extremely modular. Legacy West was supposed to be really modular but it’s not, really, because we don’t actually move anything around. We were trying so hard to make it extremely modular but it got to the point where we just had so many fixtures we couldn’t do as much with the space. Austin had a bar and everything else was loose and that was a challenge for me but it gives us a lot of flexibility to play with in the future. When we have a robust floor move and actually action that, it’s going to be awesome, because there’s nothing holding us back. They’re all completely different exercises, which keeps us busy, for sure.

Mari: Marisa, the one thing that you didn’t mention about Chelsea Market, is that you liked the historical research that went into it!

Marisa: Oh, absolutely. That is something that we geek out the most about since we had a little bit of time to dig into it. It was really fun because there is an insane amount of history with that building. All of that context made it really easy for us. I think it’s best to allow the space to evolve over time. Create neutral forms and continue to grow, knowing this is just the first layer, until we find our own patina.

The Prim and Proper bar at South Congress.

“I think it’s best to allow the space to evolve over time. Create neutral forms and continue to grow, knowing this is just the first layer, until we find our own patina.”

What is your favorite moment in the store?

Marisa: I think it changes every time you visit the store because it was to do with how the natural light hits it a certain way. The light comes in and it just hangs in this moment. I know that we’ve experienced this multiple times with the Taschen shelves in South Congress because they are made of frosted glass and the way it filters through and hits the books, it feels alive. It’s normally wherever natural light flows in, and in Chelsea Market it’s also the front windows where the Taschen shelves are. 

The Taschen shelves are some of Mari and Marisa’s favorite spaces at Chelsea Market, Legacy West, and South Congress.

Mari: Yeah, I was in the Taschen area in Legacy West the other day and they added a little cafe table in there and it felt really nice. Those high tables as you enter into the restaurant that invite community and I’ve always loved something with depth. I like those moments when you can sit amongst beautiful things.

If you want to see some of the “beautiful things” Mari was talking about, plan a trip to your local Neighborhood Goods and take a tour!


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