On April 28, 2016, Saks Fifth Avenue formally unveiled its new flagship store in the Houston Galleria. The 200,000-square-foot store was designed and planned in partnership with CBX, the New York-based brand agency and retail design consultancy. Saks relocated to the prominent two-level anchor building from a smaller space at the mall, adding approximately 20,000 square feet to its footprint at The Galleria. This was the largest Saks project to date for CBX, which has designed departments for a number of other Saks locations.
CBX’s assignment encompassed the exterior design of the building; master planning of the entire interior space; and design of all front-facing merchandise departments, back-of-house and stock areas, and customer amenities, such as the Fifth Avenue Club personal shopping area. CBX created new design elements that complemented Saks’ current interior design concept for several key departments, including jewelry, women’s lingerie, and the second-largest beauty and fragrance department in the entire Saks’ portfolio. In addition, the firm created “white box” designs for dedicated vendor shops occupying more than 27,000 square feet.
“Saks Fifth Avenue is known for delivering an unparalleled personalized shopping experience and its new Houston Galleria store is no exception,” said Todd Maute, Partner at CBX. “The design strategy was to create unique moments that express the modernity, tactility, sensuality and femininity of the Saks brand. We used space planning, architectural design and materials to create a memorable shopping experience.”
Key design features
The design of the exterior façade emulates a modern lattice aesthetic, and the customer valet entrance is graced with a covered walkway. At night, the exterior architecture is dramatically highlighted by soft, glowing LED lighting. Taking its inspiration from high-end fashion, CBX employed sculptural elements, colors, special lighting fixtures and materials to create a cohesive design. “Seamless transitions between the different departments maintain a consistent brand story while celebrating the merchandise within each space,” said Maute.
CBX designed the store’s escalator as a major focal point in the customer’s journey, highlighted by a white ceramic gold-leaf sculpture by Pascale Girardin that spans two stories. “The sculpture depicts a just-sprayed mist, such as a fragrance, which rises from the escalator void to the second floor, where it dissipates,” explained James Sundstad, VP Branded Environments at CBX.
The stairway to the second level is no less visually striking. Inspired by the female form and its movements while dancing, the design of the stairway expresses the swaying movement of a dress during dance. Elsewhere, The Apothecary, a new department designed by CBX, serves as a backdrop to the expanded fragrance and beauty department. “The Apothecary is meant to be a curated space for creative merchandising of skincare products and gifting,” explained Sundstad. “It features custom-made shelving with a unique, bracketed detail that allows for flexible merchandising and visualizing the product.”
The women’s lingerie department, meanwhile, projects a sultry, seductive feel created by soft, low ambient lighting and elliptical ceiling treatments. A sweeping glass curved wall divides the main sales floor from the fitting rooms to create an intimate and private shopping experience within. Finally, the enhanced Fifth Avenue Club, situated adjacent to the Women’s collection department, features eight private suites for customers to try on the latest collections with the assistance of their personal shoppers.
CBX specializes in creative marketing services including: strategy, naming, branding, retail design, and packaging design. The company, with its current staff of more than 130 employees, was founded in 2003 and has a client base that includes: Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor, Shinsegae, Walgreens, Wawa, Hain Celestial, McCormick, General Mills, Kimberly-Clark, Big Heart Pet Brands and AT&T. In addition to its New York City Headquarters, CBX has offices in Minneapolis, San Francisco and Austin.
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