International Retail Design Conference 2011, San Francisco

Audience: Retail designers and visual merchandisers
Items Produced: Print/Online Campaign

Like foodies who delight in exploring a city’s restaurant scene, the retail designers who travel to IRDC like to check out the flagships, concepts and independents unique to the conference locale. Which is why we’ve devoted time each year to “retail research,” scoping out the most inspiring spaces and including them in the blog and brochure. But in the case of San Francisco, we discovered that the restaurant scene now rivals the retail scene design-wise, so we decided to create two brochures: one for the program (with keynoters Chip Conley and Rob Forbes) and one spotlighting SF restaurants that promised not just a memorable meal, but inspired design.

A series of ads, a postcard and a Flash promo rounded out the campaign, all infused with references to food and drink (in a killer typeface called Eloquent, available from Veer). Attendance was up 12% over 2010′s strong showing—one more indicator that retail is regaining its mojo.

Design: Becky Mengel, Jaime Smith

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Hungry for inspiration?

Get your fill at the International Retail Design Conference, where industry-leading designers, architects, planners and visual merchandisers converge each year to refuel and recharge. At IRDC trends are examined, technologies explained, strategies revealed, connections made. It’s three non-stop days of learning, networking and scribbling feverishly in your idea notebook.

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826 Valencia (a.k.a. The Pirate Store)

If you want to check out interesting retail in San Francisco—and you happen to be low on Peg Leg Oil—your first stop should be 826 Valencia in the Mission district.

Here you can stock up on buccaneer supplies such as Glass Eyes, Scurvy Begone Tablets and Mermaid Bait or Repellant (it does both!) at The Pirate Store, a one-of-a-kind emporium that fronts best-selling author Dave Egger’s original writing lab for students, also called 826 Valencia.

Created to satisfy retail zoning requirements, the store was designed in 2002 by Eggers and volunteer designers and fabricators as a way to raise awareness about the nonprofit’s writing programs for students ages 6 to 18, which take place in the back of the space.

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Game On!

The hunger strike is over. Meaty design projects are back on the table. And IRDC is the place to load your design palette—with inspiration from around the world, intel on trends and technologies that are driving store traffic, and the contacts to help you bring your ideas to fruition.

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“A lot of glamour, a lot of funk and a little bit of bling on top” is how Charles Doell of Mr. Important Design described his vision for this sexy space, whose name means “gypsy woman.” The lighting alone is worth a visit, as are the Goya-esque tapestries, hand-printed wallpapers and reflective ceiling. The menu is just as eclectic, with flavors of Morocco, Portugal, Southern France and Spain.

Twenty Five Lusk

A gorgeously modern restaurant inside a 1917 brick and timber smokehouse? This Cass Calder Smith design takes contrast to extremes, with contemporary elements such as stainless steel fire orbs suspended from the 20-foot ceiling, walls of mirror and colored glass, white plaster, faux fur and slate against the rawest of backdrops. Ribbons of glass reveal just enough of the impressive kitchen, where classic American dishes are made new with fusion touches and California flavor.

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Idea Feast

Spend three days absorbing intel and insight from 30+ masters of customer-experience design. Only IRDC brings you face to face with industry-leading designers and visual merchandisers—to expand your network, examine trends and explore topics such as engaging millennial shoppers … creating retail archetypes … growing your brand with smaller stores … designing stores for mass-customization experiences and much more.

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A Visual Feast

View Animation

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