As Cincinnati neighborhoods become evermore vibrant with the addition of new restaurants and niche stores, a well-designed space can help business owners make their spot a must-see destination. These three tips from local architectural professionals show you how.
It’s All About the Brand
Established businesses should have a clear idea of their brand, while a new venture may still be exploring its story. Architects, by taking a holistic look at a business, can help existing brands refresh their space or refine a new concept through focused storytelling.
“We learn everything we can about the people who work there and how they use the space,” says Ron Novak, AIA, with the drawing department. “We talk to the dish washers. We find out which hand the chef uses to stir. We practice architecture the way they cook— sampling, tasting, editing, and stirring the pot.”
That deep understanding of a business helps architects develop custom solutions to address the unique needs of the owner, employees, and customers.
“The brand is translated into design through each and every element of the place, including the name of a store or restaurant, its menu or product, seating, furniture, lighting, signage, colors, and décor,” says Jaipal Singh, AIA, the principal architect with CHAATRIK Architecture + Urban Design.
Client-focused design allows architects to tailor solutions to the specific challenges of a business, while keeping the larger project and customer experience in mind.
As technology evolves, consumers expect their online experience to be enhanced by their in-person brand encounters.
“Integrated architecture can incorporate digital elements seamlessly into fixtures, furniture, walls, ceilings, and even floors,” says Singh. “Entire stores can suddenly transform at the touch of a button with content jumping seamlessly from screen to screen in conjunction with coordinated audio.”
If that sounds a bit ambitious, architects also work with owners to connect their business’s online presence to a physical place through consistent branding and custom design.
“Brick and mortar retailers have an edge over the convenience of online shopping,” says Wendy Klepcyk, AIA, a principal at Envisage Architecture. “They can create spaces that surprise and delight, are authentic to their brand, and use technology to merge the convenience of online with a tactile experience.”
The Whole Package
Small business owners must juggle the needs of their customers and staff with their aspirations for their space and their bottom lines, which is a challenge for new businesses and established brands alike.
“Every client, every site is idiosyncratic,” says Novak. “Every project is a prototype and needs to be localized to the place. We balance the aesthetic, poetic, operational, and financial needs of a project to fulfill the brand.”
Architects have the expertise to help an owner through the entire process, from site selection through construction, to refine and realize their brand into a physical space that is appealing to customers.
“The architect is the conductor of the symphony,” says Klepcyk. “We take all the elements in the space and make them connect and work together—the lighting, the HVAC, the graphics—so they harmonize rather than conflict.”
From new construction, to adaptive reuse and remodeling, architects work with business owners to navigate what may feel like an overwhelming series of choices and a complex permitting process. AIA Cincinnati offers resources for finding an architect and tips to help you work with them as you build your business.