Corripio had become one of the largest consumer electronics and appliance retailers in the Dominican Republic by employing a warehouse-style store format. Even the name, Distribuidora Corripio, suggested these products came direct from the factory to the consumer at the lowest possible prices in a no-frills environment.
But for its newest store, on a busy Santo Domingo street corner, Corripio has reversed gears. The store is still a mammoth 86,000-square-foot space with 22-foot-high ceilings. But the retailer has dropped “Distribuidora” (distributor) from exterior signage on the building. And from the sleek, angular exterior architecture on in, the goal was for a sophisticated, urban environment.
Dominican architect Javier Robledo created a light, open shell with various merchandise zones and lots of wall space for graphics that delineate the product areas. The floorplan also includes a network of drive aisles that propel shoppers from the entryway through merchandised intersections to the perimeter product areas.
To fill in the shell and give the store color, intimacy and direction, Corripio turned to Design Fabrications Inc. (D|Fab, Madison Heights, Mich.). “They knew what they wanted to do,” says D|Fab executive vp Tony Camilletti, “but they didn’t feel they had the capabilities for either the design or the fabrication.”
The design intent was to bring some architectural elements down from the high ceilings to lessen the big-space feel and delineate the drive aisles. One of Robledo’s notions was a series of metallic blue and white geometric squares that undulate like waves from the entrance toward a rear wall full of big-screen TVs. Dramatic, to be sure. In fact, it’s complicated because of the size, weight and difficulty of installation.
So D|Fab made a hollow frame-built component, substituting a lighter, less-expensive wood product for metal, and painted it with a high-gloss automotive finish to get the shine and sleekness of metal. “It was easier and cheaper to ship,” Camilletti says, “and easier to manage in the store.”
For three other primary intersections in the aisle, D|Fab produced large blue rings hanging from the ceiling, some with wayfinding information, and each with a disc containing the Corripio logo floating in the center.
For the store’s new graphics program, designers chose a series of 7-foot-high lifestyle posters showing consumers enjoying the products. “We wanted lifestyle images rather than product images,” Camilletti says. “Electronics change rapidly and product-related graphics can become obsolete quickly. But the way people enjoy using them never changes.”
So in the appliance section, visitors see an image of a young girl watching a pizza bake inside an oven. At the front of the store, an 80-foot-long mural of a woman operating a TV remote control wraps around the entire entryway. One amusing graphic in the air conditioning department shows a woman leaning forward to cool herself in front of an old-fashioned electric rotary fan.
To complement the predominantly blue and white color palette, a vinyl covering of sky blue with a white cloud pattern was added to the walls. In fact, the use of blue was a key element of the strategic plan.
The retailer’s logo, familiar throughout the Dominican Republic, is red. And the clean, white exterior of the ultra-modern building bears that logo in the same unmistakably bright shade. But the dominant color throughout the inside of the store is a deep, clean blue – the blue of the island sky and the Caribbean Sea.
“Corripio felt red conveys a discount image, the old image,” Camilletti says. “Blue is modern, high-tech, streamlined. It’s the essence of today’s consumer electronics technology and the image they wanted to convey. They no longer want to be seen as simply a warehouse distributor.”
Retailer: Corripio, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Design: Pavlik Design Team, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Design and Architect: Valquiria S.A, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Outside Design Consultant: D|Fab, Madison Heights, Mich. (interior graphics and decor)
Audio/Visual: ABItronix LLC, Flanders, N.J.
Ceilings: Acero Estrella, Santiago, Dominican Republic
Fixtures: Mercalia-Sonelec S.A., Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Flooring: Cerarte, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Furniture: Mercalia-Sonelec S.A., Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Wallcoverings and Materials: Suplitec, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Ceiling Components, Decor and Graphics: D|Fab, Madison Heights, Mich.