The Home Depot Design Center is the next-generation store concept by the venerable big-box retailer. In this innovative concept, the second-largest retailer in the world aimed to shed its unrefined warehouse image, suitable for contractors and hard-core do-it-yourselfers, in favor of a more polished look to attract a younger, urban demographic with a “do-it-for-me” mentality and a need for complete design solutions.
While the new concept is distinctively a Home Depot store, the shopping experience is altogether new, friendlier, and much more interactive. By removing some of the perennial building and construction products such as lumber and concrete, the merchandise assortment evolved to accommodate products with a design flair. Traditional departments such as hardware and paint have been supplemented with new showrooms arranged along a circular racetrack to enhance shopability. The store was also given a new logo, signage, merchandising, and décor packages to communicate the change and to promote exploration.
The graphic system emerges from the most recognizable shape in the Home Depot identity: the orange square. A grid of colored squares was used for the store exterior and interior to tie the two together. The color palette was also softened to reflect a more residential feel while at the same time remaining compatible with existing Home Depot colors, especially since most promotional signage would not be changed.
Wayfinding considerations were important, since most customers accustomed to the traditional Home Depot would find a dramatically different space in the new concept store. To alleviate this initial surprise, an entry vestibule was created to showcase the unique product offerings, highlight seasonal/promotional messages, and provide a directory of major departments. Tall, numbered navigational pylons at important decision points along the racetrack provide visibility across the store.
Little developed a storewide icon system to identify various departments. Department signs incorporate internally illuminated icons accompanied by sepia-toned black-and-white photos printed on self-adhesive vinyl. Dimensional letters applied on top of the large-scale photos name the department in English and Spanish. Check-outs were given a similar look with totems featuring large orange numbers punched out of the familiar square.
“If only all big-box retailers would be willing to embrace an alternative approach to shopping in a warehouse. This demonstrates what is possible within the boundaries and restrictions of discount retail.”
Daniel Montaño (studio principal), Todd Rowland (design director), Santiago Crespo (art director), Rich Glenny, John Quinn, Randy Olaes, Joe VanBergen, Jeff Roark
Choate Construction Company (general contractor), Sunbelt General Contractors (upfit contractor), Welch Group Construction (interior and fixtures contractor), Cole Jenest Stone (civil engineers), Carl Walker Inc. (parking deck engineers), Spaeth Design (visual merchandising)
Great Big Pictures (printing); Sign Art (sign fabrication); Art Guild, Boston Retail, Madjek Inc., Lozier (fixtures); Acuity Brands (lighting)