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Building the Store, Part 3: Grogan Jewelers: Incorporating Passion

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Building the Store: Passion as a Design Feature

BY EILEEN MCCLELLAND

Published in the November 2012 issue

PART 3 OF A SERIES that will cover the construction of the new Grogan Jewelers store in Florence, AL, from initial plans to a projected spring 2013 completion.

When Jay Klos chose the architect for his new Grogan Jewelers building in Florence, AL, he looked far and wide, and settled on someone close to home — Cherri Pitts of Studio C Architecture & Interiors in Birmingham, AL, who had done work for him on his own house and is as experienced in residential design as she is in commercial.

But as the footings from the old building were dug up, an unexpected expense cropped up — in the form of dirt.

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Klos says her aesthetic sense complements his while her creative vision allows him to explore new ideas he wouldn’t have otherwise considered.

“I like her taste,” he says. “She has got some really cool ideas. It’s a refined taste like I have, but it’s different. She thinks outside the box.”

When Pitts designs a house she studies how her clients will use each area. Similarly, Pitts based her drawings of Grogan Jewelers’ new site on Klos’ vision of the experiences he wanted people to have in his store, learning a great deal simply by watching him interact with clients. “Jay is so warm and friendly and talks to everyone,” Pitts says. “He sets the tone for how his business is run. I love his passion about what he does and I love that I’m able to help him show that in the space he’s creating. We started by creating a vibe that is relaxed and not intimidating, but still beautiful.”

Pitts will be the interior designer on the project as well, which allows for a seamless result, she says.

For example, in the lounge area, it would have been almost automatic these days to mount a huge, flat-screen TV over the large stone fireplace. But because Pitts was involved in interior design and not just drawing a “shell” of a building, she was able to create concealed casework for the TV on the opposite wall so that it doesn’t detract from the beauty and ambience of the fireplace.

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Pitts is also working to infuse the sunken engagement area with romance.

The ceiling is lower than the rest of the store, creating an intimate feel, and the room will be defined by floor to ceiling curtains in each corner, framing both the space and a large window on one side. “It creates real drama,” she says. Open cases will float in the space and will be filled with prototypes that bridal couples can play with.

“We’re trying to set a stage that doesn’t feel like you’re in a typical retail space,” Pitts says.

One of Pitts’s goals is to have the exterior and interior of the store “communicate” with each other.

Pendant lights in the interior will be seen sparkling through the 22-foot-long, mostly glass front entry.

The exterior will have what Pitts describes as a relaxed, Southern-chic twist to it with the addition of what is called a rain screen — a slatted wood wall that floats in front of the structural wall. That slatted-wood look will be repeated inside the store, in the engagement center enclosure. “As an architectural element, it’s really powerful,” she says.

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Pitts also designed a big landscaped courtyard Klos will be able to use for events. There’s room for a band and a bar too.

One challenge Pitts faces is that the exterior has no real rear since three of the store’s four walls face the street and the fourth joins a neighboring retail space. That means there will be no shortcuts, design-wise. “All three sides need to be presentable,” she says.

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