As designers, we are naturally attracted to all things pretty & fun - so when Alice & Wonder reached out for help with their new location, we were very excited! The Chicago-based boutique already had one storefront in Lincoln Park that caters to their more youthful clientele, and they wanted to open a Southport location that better fit that demographic while still ringing true to their bright, happy vibe.
To make this space feel fresh, feminine, and elevated, we used a soft palette of white and light, warm woods, along with teals and pinks from the company's branding. Copper fixtures throughout were built from simple piping, while tile accents help add dimension.
At the entry, we introduced a brick-look veneer rendered in a soft white to serve as a nod to the architecture of the neighborhood. The texture of the brick tile is really highlighted by the brand's logo, reinterpreted in oversized neon (over 4 feet high!) that is visible from the bustling Southport corridor. This not only serves as a major branding moment, but also helps ground the space and its tall ceilings. while still leaving enough room to display pretty, fun new product at the entry. This subtle texture also plays nicely with the exposed poured concrete floors, helping to add a layer of grit to the space and keep it from feeling too saccharine.
Our other major tile moment shows one of Alice & Wonder's signature phrases in a custom mosaic tile mural. The client was very inspired by classic floor mosaics often seen outside
older bistros and storefronts, and tapped local artist Vichcraft to help plan the location and color of every single tile. We are so thrilled with the result and the huge impact it makes on the space!
In this new location, Alice & Wonder really wanted to focus on creating a more functional merchandising system with a kit of parts that could be rearranged often to show off new product. To accomplish this, we designed a series of stationary and mobile merchandisers. Classic Parsons-style tables help put items on full display, while shorter mobile units finished in wood tambour were built on casters to be able to slide cleanly underneath. Mobile racks are dispersed throughout to vary product height, custom built with a shelf at the bottom for shoes or other accessories.
At the walls, we worked with copper and wood to create hanging and shelving systems that can be updated as needed. The copper fixtures vary between floor and ceiling mounting, adding a playful element to these functional merchandisers. Several of the ceiling-mounted fixtures have a high shelf for plantings or additional styling moments. Behind the fixtures we placed a few magnetic message rails throughout as a fun little surprise to discover while browsing. To break up the copper merchandisers, we also implemented a wood pegboard system that is similar to their original location, but provides added flexibility.
One of the most important aspects of retail is to not only draw customers in, but to keep them in - we wanted to make sure visitors would find their way to the back of the store and continue to explore. To accomplish this, we repeated the pairing of brick-look tile and neon - this time at the rear wall adjacent to the fitting rooms, with a pink arrow pointing to the oversized mirror meant for group selfies or checking yourself out in some new threads!
For many shoppers, trying things on in the fitting room is a real make-or-break moment, and we wanted to be sure to provide a positive experience that aligns with the brand's aesthetic to make a good impression. Here, we used a series of soft archways accented by deep green sconces and matching velvet drapery for privacy. The arch motif was repeated in the backlit mirrors within. All walls within the fitting rooms were finished with a custom gradient wallcovering, fading from one of the brand's signature pinks to a soft white. We love the warm and happy vibe it gives these spaces!
For those patient friends and family waiting outside the fitting rooms, we installed vintage stadium seats and painted the underside with the brand's logo & signature mint green. The client loved the idea of having these in store as a nod to Wrigley Field, located just a few blocks away. The vintage patina adds a great sense of warmth, and the folding seats act as a space-saver when not in use.
Just beyond the fitting rooms is the space for Mini Wonders! The children's area was outfitted to blend with the rest of the space, with similar merchandisers and displays. The mint green walls are accented by a fun rainbow of Alice & Wonder brand colors, a nod to the soft shapes seen throughout the store.
This rainbow also serves as a beacon to highlight the restroom at the back of the space, open to all shoppers. We wanted to keep the same fun, fresh vibe to align with the space - but also add an extra dose of pink! We repeated the painted arch in here with gradient blush tones, adding an arched mirror as well at the vanity. The white tile and wall-mounted sink work with the brass accents to provide dimensions against the cotton candy palette.
One of our favorite details here is the off-center sconce, added at about face height to provide a nice glow when using the mirror. This unexpected moment worked nicely with the wall-mount sink, and we love the fun element it brings to the space.
We love to support local business, especially woman-owned ones, and were very grateful for this opportunity to collaborate with Alice & Wonder to help them realize their dreams for a second location. Check them out next time you're in Southport!
Photography: Wittefini Photo