This is Unleashed by PETCO, a store I designed for PETCO in 2009. One of the things I most appreciate about it is how fully realized it is. Nearly everything that Mike Lewis and I came up with was built and installed; we got the chance to reexamine every aspect of the retail experience and develop something that we both thought would really be a more friendly, pet-centric environment.
Unleashed by PETCO; the flagship store in the Hillcrest neighborhood of San Diego
One of the fundamentals of Mike’s vision for this store was the idea that it would be friendly to customers and their pets – even inviting. Following his lead, we designed a community center into the store. Intended for pets and pet parents, this included custom benches and water fountains for both, healthy plants, and a reference library. He was looking to develop a community around each store; a resource center for people looking for nutritional information, activities, friends, and all things pet-related.
We went through a lot of iterations of this storefront. Like most of the process, we were designing for both concept approval and the construction crew! Everything I was designing had to be able to be built: and immediately. We had less than 4 months to open the store. Immediately upon approval of a concept piece, I would turn the Vectorworks files into build drawings and send them off to an architect/construction firm for translation into construction plans. And all this was done from Chicago! I hadn’t even seen the storefront in person.
We wanted the areas of the store to be unmistakably identified from the moment you walked into the store. That, to me, meant giant letters on the walls indicating where each area could be found. Once the customer made it to the general area, then eye-level signage could take over. The store, being about 5000 square feet, was not overwhelmingly big – but we wanted to make sure that the layout and navigation within in was crystal clear and effortless.
One of the most fun parts of this project was designing the light fixtures. We combed through endless images from Shutterstock and Getty to get the right animals to represent the store; the right balance of dogs, cats, and other animals; images that we thought most upheld the brand attributes of Unleashed.
We were greatly fortunate to have the freedom to examine every design decision down to minute details. This is a good example of one of our working drawings; the community center, as it was coming together. As you can see, most of this got built to our specification, though the coffee table still had some revising to go through. That really was a cool coffee table; I’d love to have someone take that design and build it for us. Any takers?