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Shoe store sizes up a youthful design

When Kinney shoes set out to devise a new store concept, it designed a fun, youthful environment that would get children interested and keep them entertained. But it also created a store that would be practical for adults.

"The Kinney Kids environment was created as a destination for kids," says Bevan Bloemendaal, director of visual merchandising for Kinney Kids, a division of New York-based Venator Group. "By separating this business from the Kinney store, it allowed us an environment that appealed not only to the child but also the parent."

The design incorporates a variety of materials as well as bright colors and fun shapes intended to capture children's attention. Accents such as animated mannequins, banners, oversized wire/bead toys and colored blocks offer visual stimuli for children, Bloemendaal says. There are even interactive aspects to the design.

"This environment provides a distraction to the child, with the use of videos playing cartoons, a play station and wire/bead toys, and allows the parent the luxury of shopping in peace," Bloemendaal says. "Oversized and overstuffed seating, trained associates and distinct product classification breaks add to the ease of the Kinney Kids shopping experience."

Functional materials used in the store design add to the playful environment. Clear plastic tubes with childlike splattered paint divide the shoes into gender classifications. The background walls are made with a laminate from Englewood, N.J.-based Abet Laminati.

"In creating the background, the most visible portion of the Kinney Kids environment, it was important to find a material that would enhance the product being featured," Bloemendaal says.

The laminate, which is part of Abet's Serigrafia collection, is made by silk screening. Using this process makes the laminate a premium product, according to Leonardo Fiaschi, president of Abet Laminati's Italian parent company, Abet Inc.

"We sell a very visually effective product," Fiaschi says. "We bring a European collection to the United States and it's something that looks different and fresh."

Because of the selection of colors and trendy designs, Abet laminates are well suited for retail, Fiaschi says. The laminates are divided into four color groups - soft, chic, shock and hot - containing colors that sometimes are not made by American manufacturers. Designers point out that colors in the shock group, various shades of yellow, blue, green and orange, are truly different, Fiaschi says.

Abet also focuses on plastic as a strong design element, rather than making it look like another material. Although Abet manufactures laminates that resemble natural materials, the company does not emphasize those products. "We think a plastic should be proud to be a plastic, rather than replicating rock, wood or other natural materials," he adds.

Abet's Serigrafia white laminate accentuates the other bright colors in the store. "The white-on-white squiggle pattern adds to the whimsical, clean attitude and allows the use of primary colors in toys, banners, wooden blocks and shelving to add vibrancy and attention," Bloemendaal says.

Kinney Kids currently has 25 locations around the country.

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