Fit for purpose: Part 2 - the first steps

28 August, 2009
Richard Hamilton of Agile Space continues a step-by-step guide to revamping your shops
Page 16 

Before you even begin taking the first steps towards designing and fitting your bakery shop or café, it's worth considering the sustainability of the materials to be used, as eco-policies and 'green' credentials are becoming an increasingly fundamental part of business basics. Store design has had to follow suit and, to many people's surprise, it isn't all hessian and yucca plants at an inflated price.

There are some successful eco-designed restaurants and cafés that are regularly seen as examples of how to be 'green' - such as Inn the Park in Green Park, with its sedum roof and timber cladding, or the Waterhouse restaurant next to the Regent's Canal with its various energy-saving investments.

However, an overall store design containing a heat exchange system, some solar panels and a wind generator, along with rainwater recycling, is great in a newly built environment but there is little of this that can be retro-fitted to a high street store at reasonable expense while keeping the planners happy. More significant for the majority of stores is to know which materials can be designed into a store that have 'green' credentials and can fit into a refurbishment or new store budget.

Innovation is happening at an incredible pace in the development of new eco-friendly materials. There are work surfaces being used that are made out of recycled washing up bottles, wellies and coffee cups, which have the same practical operational qualities as Corian but at a fraction of the cost. Fabrics are manufactured using nettles, which are also durable and cleanable, while a new cladding material that looks similar to stained timber is made using waste coffee grinds. All these materials are affordable and can be used as direct replacements for laminates and other finishes, with a great brand-boosting story.

I've worked on a store that is under wraps in the south west, which has many of these new recycled materials sitting alongside classic, natural materials, such as slate, granite and marble. For many customers these traditional materials are a reassuring sign of quality and tradition and have inherent environmentally friendly properties.

The juxtaposition of modern and tradition is highly successful when used correctly and, by introducing these new materials into shopfits in the future, businesses can develop their brands and their green credentials at a realistic cost while appealing to existing customers and attracting new ones.





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