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Eileen McClelland

Design Your Store With Your Community in Mind

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Ruth Mellergaard, a principal with Grid 3/International, is a designer of note in two stores that took America’s Coolest Stores honors this year.

The stores have something in common besides the cool factor.

Both have themes that complement their communities.

Kevin Seele worked with Mellergaard as well as with Regina Kay to come up with a comfortably elegant Tuscan store design that reflects the community of Totowa, NJ, which has a large Italian-American population.

Kevin’s Fine Jewelry store, built in 2009, will be featured in the February 2016 issue of INSTORE.


Kevin’s Fine Jewelry

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Starting with a blank slate – a concrete slab in a strip mall — the design team researched a photo of the Ponte Vecchio, Florence’s famous bridge for inspiration. Seele found the artist who painted a mural of the bridge to create a feature wall. The artist also painted clouds on the ceiling over the center island, and a wall finish that looks like Venetian plaster.

Around the center island, Mellergaard’s plans specified wood columns that set off the whole focal point, creating a separate area from the rest of the store’s more open floor plan.

Mellergaard says it was fun to work with Seele, who she describes as a very visual person. “That makes a designer’s life easier – if they have a sense of who they are and what they want and how they are creating a brand,” she says. “Rarely do people want an interior that is as theatrical as Kevin’s is.”

Both Mellergaard and Seele credit general contractor Robert Dykman of RED Construction for the speed and ease of the project. “He pulled it together so professionally and so quickly that it made my life very easy,” Seele says.

Mellergaard was also instrumental in the design of Goldsmith Gallery of Billings, MT, owned by Scott and Kelly Wickam, which opened in 2010, and was featured in the August 2015 issue of INSTORE.

Scott Wickam wanted a store that had an elegant Montana lodge feeling that would reflect the outdoor life of its customers: miners, cattle ranchers, oilmen, visiting skiers from nearby Red Lodge Mountain Resort.

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Goldsmith Gallery of Billings, MT

Two-story expanses of glass and cedar-framed oversize windows flood the store with sunlight, showing off the “Big Sky” of the state’s nickname and the nearby Beartooth Mountains. The center of the showroom is atrium height, with a suspended mahogany framework of lights that doesn’t interfere with its open-space feel. Almost all the building materials came from local resources, with sustainability a priority.

Mellergaard consulted with A&E Architects of Billings to make sure the interior and exterior space meshed.

“So we knew to find materials that had a casual vibe,” she says. “And we decided that we should have the stone on the inside as well as on the outside of the building. For cases, we had them in two colors so they looked a little more casual.”

“When you walk in, there’s a very high ceiling. So we needed to bring the lighting down and so we designed a floating soffit in wood, with a Frank Lloyd Wright feeling. We were able to bring the light down toward the cases without interfering with the vision of the fireplace beyond.”

In addition, Scott wanted the POS, repair station, etc., to look like a reservations desk at a hotel, with two lamps on either end.

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“That hospitality, residential feeling is a real big deal right now,” Mellergaard says. “It’s a trend that is growing in interior design. And Scott is one of the first people who verbalized it.”

Eileen McClelland is the Managing Editor of INSTORE. She believes that every jewelry store has the power of cool within them.

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