Let's Get Real: The 3 Types of Moods Reclaimed Wood Creates in Retail Design

Posted on December 19, 2018 by Carm McCormick

Let's Get Real: The 3 Types of Moods Reclaimed Wood Creates in Retail Design

Posted on December 19, 2018 by Carm McCormick

In the second part of this series, we’ll explore the different ways reclaimed wood features in store design to connect emotionally with customers.

Look around and you’ll see reclaimed wood everywhere — shops, restaurants, studios, and countless other spaces. As a design choice, reclaimed wood has surged in popularity as part of the greater trend of showcasing real materials in a physical space, taking customers on a unique journey through a brand’s story. 

In the first post in this series, we took a closer look at why reclaimed wood is a favourite amongst retailers. In this second part, we’ll explore how stores are using it. When leveraged as main material, reclaimed wood asserts itself boldly as a visual brand ambassador. It can play a pivotal role in telling a brand story through its warmth, texture and unique properties that vary from piece to piece.  We typically consider it to take the edge off sterile environments while creating a visual disruption that the eye can catch on to when walking into a retail space.

How to create a lasting look, feel, and impact with reclaimed wood

Reclaimed wood is a great material to add a welcome and unexpected contrast to cleaner lines. As you can see in the example from Starbucks above, I like to use it in design as an accent where it stands out from the cleaner calmer lines of everything else in the environment — it makes the investment that much more worth it because you know it will be seen.  

Below, in the shelving piece we designed for the restaurant FanJoy, the intent and desire to use reclaimed wood, all sourced locally, was to align with their brand commitment to sourcing ingredients locally and establishing strong ties with the community.

The 3 types of moods reclaimed wood creates in retail design

The atmosphere you want to create in your store environment should be thoughtfully reflected in your choice of design materials. What kind of connection are you hoping to make? Here are three ‘personalities’ that reclaimed wood can establish in a space:

Natural / Eco-Friendly

As more customers make eco-friendly purchasing decisions, it’s important for sustainably-minded retailers to communicate their green values and ethics through their use of design materials. Reclaimed wood is the natural choice for humanizing your brand and establishing its connection to the natural world.

The upscale aesthetic of reclaimed wood shows customers that there’s no sacrifice in quality in environmentally-conscious designs. In fact, the effort that goes into producing reclaimed wood furnishings often makes them a more bespoke option than new materials, which are more likely to be mass-produced.

Handcrafted / Bohemian

Reclaimed wood not only requires more custom work than other design materials, but its salvaged origins mean that no two pieces are exactly alike. This inspirational quality makes reclaimed wood a great fit for brands with artisanal character and helps them stand out as one-of-a-kind in the market. Reclaimed wood is the opposite of fabricated — it’s genuine, honest and real — which are human-like traits that make a strong impression and appeal to the individualistic and free-spirited.

Rustic / Industrial

Each piece of reclaimed wood has its own distinctive wood grain, cracks, nail holes, and weathering that gives it its own personality. This not only gives reclaimed wood designs individualistic character, but also infuses them with stories that are preserved with their reuse — helping stores establish historical cachet along with stronger ties to the material’s place of origin.

Case study: Starbucks’ community connections

At daybreak all over the world, people start their mornings with a satisfying cuppa at Starbucks coffee shops. As a massive global chain, Starbucks has to work especially hard to establish a sense of familiarity for every customer in every location — creating moments of comfort, building emotional connections, and a haven from their bustling world of worries. Starbucks’ use of reclaimed wood is a strategic choice. It helps their stores feel established in an area, even if they’ve just recently opened.

We collaborate with Starbucks architects to fabricate and produce custom elements tailored to the requirements of different locations. Our use of reclaimed wood is essential to the brand’s ‘neighborhood approach’ — giving customers the feeling that this global company is a genuine participant in their local community. Meaning that, when customers walk into any Starbucks, they know they’ll be greeted by the same culture of belonging, in a welcoming atmosphere.

Generous use of reclaimed wood makes an all-over statement in every design, showcasing the material for its feeling of warmth that permeates the space, and its ability to communicate Starbucks’ humane and sustainable values with honesty. We love the challenge of creating consistent yet distinctive designs at each individual location, while ensuring the continuity of custom products store by store.

Reclaimed wood designs are a long-term relationship

Lots of retailers will use reclaimed wood because it’s on trend. If it’s the only reason you are using it, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but be prepared to invest in changing it out when a new trend emerges, because if you are using it for trend only and there isn’t a connection to your brand, then it will become dated for your customers. It will no longer feel like it should be there.

As much as you’d think we love clients who just do things for trends (because that means they keep coming back to update every few years) we would prefer to design and choose finishes that are more aligned with the brand so we deliver on experiences. Considering if reclaimed wood is the right material for your brand? We’d love to continue the conversation. Give us a call at 905-264-0917 or contact us.