A Typography-themed Boutique in Oxford


Bonnie Boutique, a ladies-wear and gift store that is situated at Broad St. in Oxford, attracts lots of international tourists. The boutique has three (3) other branches in place with a very close proximity from this one in the picture here and in order to maximise sales, each store has been designed to look totally different even though they are roughly selling the same products.

A few years ago we have designed one of those branches in a Vintage style using lots of reclaimed materials which suited the style of the very old building and the customers loved it, so we were commissioned by the owner to do the interior design and visual merchandising of Bonnie. But we couldn’t use the same theme so we had to come up with another idea. As Oxford is a place of study and has many libraries, we thought that it would be interesting to use Typography as a theme for the store. We used lots of quotes from famous Oxford graduates like Oscar Wilde and one of the quotes was printed using an old 18th Centaury wood block printing press. The individual word prints were then put into individual modern frames and collectively arranged on the wall behind the till point to create the whole message.

We took another quote “So Why Study” and commissioned a calligrapher to create a piece of artwork using the quote. This was then Photoshopped, printed onto wallpaper then hung onto the wall to create a huge 5 meters long by 3 meters high visual feather. The same design was also printed onto a clear acrylic panel and used as a backdrop of the shop window.

High level perimeter spaces are never really used in many stores because they seem to be redundant. We wanted to do something dramatic in the two high level perimeter spaces at the front of the store. We collected hundreds of old shop signage letters. These were spray painted black and applied directly to the wall to create a collage of letters. If you look closely you can see the word Oxford spelled out of them.

Fitting rooms are one of the areas that are very rarely visually decorated. We used oversized scripted wallpaper on the main wall to create a dramatic effect and to tie the whole store together we chose a sophisticated blue colour palette. We used three shades of the same colour on architectural feature walls and on drop down ceiling areas.

The author, Phill Hill is the Creative Director of International Visual. Having started on the shop floor and working his way through the ranks into senior visual management at House of Fraser. Phill has a comprehensive understanding of retail and the importance Visual Merchandising plays in it. He is constantly searching for new creative ideas to stimulate visual thinkers.

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