Coloring Book

Crayola debuts an Experience Store filled with – you guessed it!
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Posted March 14, 2014

Terra Cotta. Hot Magenta. Blue Lagoon.

Everyone probably has a favorite Crayola color and memory. So when Reztark Design Studio (Cincinnati) was given the brief to create a Crayola store, the aim was to do more than just fill the 5300-square-foot space with color.

It was also to touch people’s emotions.

The store is part of the Crayola Experience, a four-floor attraction that also contains a café and interactive exhibits in Easton, Pa., near the company’s headquarters. After visitors to the center get excited about the 112-year-old product that has colored their lives, they end the tour in the store.

As in any other themed store, the stakes are high. Merchandise and souvenir sales are a very big part of the profitability of any themed environment, whether it’s Crayola or Disney.

So Crayola-themed merchandise and accessories abound. So does color. But there were limitations.

“Crayola’s original thought was to utilize the vivid green and yellow that are its signature colors,” Christie Kratzer, design principal, Reztark Design Studio, says.  “But then you lose the familiar box with the ‘Crayola smile’ logo. It just blends into the background.”

Kratzer’s solution was a more neutral backdrop for the merchandise, which makes the plethora of packaging throughout the store more vivid.

But that’s not to say the store is bland. After all, Kratzer had at her disposal the more than 200 active colors in the box.

Entrance to the store is between two giant yellow and red fabricated crayons located just inside the door. These two branded scene-setters are 13 feet high and 3½ feet in diameter, the enlarged proportion of a Crayola crayon.

The floor is a blend of green and blue, to give customers the feel of walking on grass and water, with the occasional unexpected splatter of color.

“A set of Crayola characters has been created,” Kratzer says, “and these splatters are as if the characters had dripped wax from the floating discs suspended from the ceiling.”

There are several main attractions in the store. The 40-foot Pick Your Pack wall is a rainbow display of 75 different colored crayons and 24 markers striping 11 feet to the ceiling. At the foot are bins of individual crayons and markers for shoppers to create their individualized boxes.

The Create-and-Print station allows guests to design their own colorful ideas on a computer screen and then have that design reproduced on a T-shirt or canvas or even a jigsaw puzzle.

There are also plenty of items you can only find in the store – like commemorative boxes or an oversized 2-pound crayon with a customizable label.

Because the store is very much a hands-on attraction, significant research was done to find durable, easy-to-clean materials. For example, the countertops at the cashwrap are a stone agglomerate material called Viatera that can be wiped clean of color smudges and stains.

Also, resting zones have been established for infants and toddlers who can’t keep up with their older siblings, or for a child of any age that needs a time-out.

“We used the center of the store to install festive seating,” Kratzer says, “like elephant and puppy stools and a whimsical ottoman. We even have a large red bench at the exit to allow teachers to collect their classes before leaving.”

But the store is not just for children. “Everyone has his or her own memory of crayons,” says Kratzer. In fact, the cladding on the many wood columns in the former bank building is filled with the various color names over the years.

That is Crayola’s hope as it plans to expand this concept. The market is practically unlimited. Because whether one has colored inside or outside the lines, the instrument at hand has almost always been one of those colored, paper-wrapped, wax sticks from a Crayola box.

PROJECT SUPPLIERS

Location
Crayola Experience Retail Store, Easton, Pa.

Retailer
Crayola Experience Retail Store, Easton, Pa.

Design
Reztark Design Studio, Cincinnati
Crayola Creative, Easton, Pa.

Architect
W2A Design Group, Allentown, Pa.

General Contractor
Boyle Construction, Allentown, Pa.

Outside Design Consultants
Jack Rouse Associates, Cincinnati

Audio/Visual
RAW Media Teknologies, Winter Garden, Fla.
Yellow Leaf Inc., Orange County, Calif.

Ceilings
Visual Impulse by Moss, Elkgrove, Ill.

Fixtures
IDL Worldwide, East Butler, Pa.

Flooring
Centiva, Florence, Ala.
Jockimo Inc., Aliso Viejo, Calif.

Furniture
Offi & Co., Corning, N.Y.
Magis Furniture
Loll Designs, Duluth, Minn.

Lighting
Abernathy Lighting Design, Providence, R.I.

Signage/Graphics
IDL Worldwide, East Butler, Pa.
Geograph Industries, Harrison, Ohio

Other
Formica, Cincinnati
Abet Laminati, Englewood, N.J.
L.G. Hausys America, Atlanta
Curbell Plastic, Cincinnati

Photographer: John Sterling Ruth, Bethlem, Pa.