When Tv retailers Tv Media were faced with unexpected resistance from the Singapore shopper, it brought in designers Poole Associates to bridge the gap between Tv and reality in an effort to bring virtual shopping closer to home.
Loath to believe everything they had seen on Tv, canny Singaporeans unaccustomed to "sellavision" were not prepared to buy from their living rooms and insisted on touching and feeling as well. So with a brief to take Tv shopping to the high street, the designers at Poole Associates created what they call "a hands-on exploratory and personal shopping experience...", to support the product information and testimonials provided through television advertising. With a product range that exceeded 900 items, the merchandise includes learning tools, leisure, sports, health and beauty products, encompassing everything from kitchen knives to exercise bikes.
The third in a chain of four outlets, the designers created a language of their own in the design of this prime retail space on Singapore's Orchard Road. Heavily loaded with the imagery of the Tv age, miniature pylons rise to the ceiling broadcasting "informercials" while custom designed display units in the shape of the eye are ever watchful for unsuspecting shoppers. Ed Poole of Poole Associates created these devices to grab people off the street. "The products were small and nothing had a presence," he adds," ...what we needed was hardcore selling!"
Tv Innovations was the official name of the Tv Media outlets and Poole Associates introduced the "atomic" metaphor to the masthead. The design for the shop began with the redesign of the logo. The fascination with the electronic age, which is represented by the blue neon strips coursing through the walls and ceiling, is carried through to the selection of materials. Galvanized metal raceway panels partially reveal electrical services with the intent to hint at what Ed Poole calls "the transfer of information in the electronic age".
Other industrial materials like the galvanized Webforge decking is used not just for its post industrial chic but also because it is fabricated by computer - the designers consider it a product of the times. Here it is used along with water tank panels to suggest the effect of being within "the guts of a tv set". The Webforge decking is inlaid with timber strips to create the raised gallery that overlooks a pit designed for bulkier fitness machines. Turned on end it is also used to frame the entrance.
The selective use of primary colors and the generous provision for lighting ensures every product is seen to best effect. Halogen flood lamps bring out the warmth of the chrome yellow and maple floor. This is provided in combination with PL lamps which produce the even white light that many retailers prefer.
Apart from being the symbols of the dissemination of mass media, the pylons of aerial towers double as infinitely flexible display systems. Constructed from steel angles welded and cross-braced with steel plates, overlapping glass shelves hang off brackets bolted directly onto the frame. These can then be easily readjusted to suit the quick turnover of products.
Yet another source of wonder with this retail outlet was its time frame of construction. Built at a cost of SGD$546,000 (SGD$1,704 per square meter) it was completed in just 19 days. Rentals are high and two months of free rent is what most landlords are likely to offer tenants for renovations. After having worked in Singapore for nine years, Ed Poole knew to expect that the two months would include the design and development of the plans and construction drawings. Fortunately, some of the design elements were pre-detailed. Yet, if not for the uniqueness of the construction industry in Singapore with its lack of workers' unions, they would not have found builders quite so accommodating. Ed Poole confides that anything is possible in Singapore: "We were developing details even as the builders were working on the shop. The trick is to stay one step ahead".
Tv Innovations at Centrepoint Shopping Centre has received a merit award from ICI-SIA 1997 Color Awards, for best use of color in an interior, presented by the Singapore Institute of Architects.