Designer Forum: Innovation and technology lie at the heart of Sleep Number stores - Mar 2019

By Ken Nisch

Sleep Number, a $1.7 billion brand, is the leader in bringing technology, innovation and an individualized sleep experience to the consumer. In designing the brand’s new Fifth Avenue, New York flagship store and its new Easton Gateway prototype store in Columbus, Ohio, JGA’s goal was to ensure the brand was clearly communicated through the design.

Sleep Number addresses the everyday challenges of sleeping: warming and cooling, snoring, keeping partners happy. Monitoring over a million sleepers each night in real time, Sleep Number brings together the art and science of sleep with a sense of elegance and style uncommon within the sleep and bedding category.

FLOORING TO REINFORCE BRAND: EASTON GATEWAY
By locating its new prototype store in the Easton Town Center, Sleep Number positions itself among brands noted for fashion, technology and lifestyle, providing the perfect environment to introduce the brand’s products and advantages.

Sleep Number has visual brand attributes that are consistent across the company’s marketing and advertising efforts as well as its pop-up and experiential events, and in its over 550 locations across the U.S., these visual assets complement the company’s identity and branding efforts, building from its familiar circle, triangle and square shapes.

These geometric shapes are derived from the control button used to dial in a sleeper’s comfort level. Its up and down arrows, the circle shape of the button and the bed itself are represented through architectural and dimensional references such as floor patterns, dimensional ceiling elements, wall cut-outs, window mullions and display fixtures. Flooring plays a key role in reinforcing these geometries.

Whether it be carpet tile from Mohawk’s Zip It collection, porcelain from Florida Tile and Florim, hardwood from Kaswell or woven vinyl rugs from Bolon’s Ethnic collection, the flooring creates contrast to provide a pallet that is warm, natural and textural. In the case of the entry feature, where Florim’s dark wood-look porcelain in Walnut was selected, the flooring and feature wall are highlighted by a bold and over-scaled brand logo and juxtaposed against the bright and airy nature of the overall store environment. The mini vignette brings attention to not only the brand but also the product itself.

The beds are typically highlighted through the visual appeal of the flooring, accent furniture, lighting and, in some cases, through the use of rugs, which are primarily Bolon woven vinyl. These features create a more residential feel in the consulting and diagnostic spaces, where consultants are analyzing pressure points, sleep comfort, partner sleep habits, product attributes and individualization.

FLOORING AS DESIGN: FIFTH AVENUE, MANHATTAN
Given the lack of natural light, which is typical of urban storefronts, lighter materials dominate the spaces in the New York location. Also, the use of brand geometries changes in scale and placement due to the longer and more constrained footprint of the store. While the “rooms” and zones of each store are fixed, the brand requires a high degree of flexibility, given the pipeline of innovative products, new product launches, and a commitment to refresh and renew the shopping experience. 

The use of Mohawk Group’s Antiek wood-look LVT allows for a high degree of flexibility in restaging new layouts in each of these shopping pods. And Chilewich’s accent rugs are a cost-effective solution, as the rugs can be changed out, refreshing the look of a space simply through an alteration in material, shape, scale or color.

As potential customers walk by, the highly reflective nature of the flooring helps beckon them past the façade and into the store’s welcome point, defined by the iconic brand “button” inlay and the directional flooring. They are lured deeper into the store through a linear lattice ceiling feature that leads onlookers’ eyes to another brand “button” situated just in front of the bedding design lab.

Keeping with the technology and innovation of the Sleep Number brand, large screen televisions were placed throughout, providing customers with information relative to the products. Even the pillows and bedding in the bedding design lab serve as design elements and visual reminders of the contemporary clean look the brand seeks to showcase. The subtle use of Mohawk’s Antiek in Smoke in a herringbone pattern in the bedding design lab creates a sense of differentiation as well as continuity, signaling to the guest that it is an information gathering zone.

Since the purchase of a Sleep Number bed is a “considered purchase,” the time a consumer spends in the store can be considerable, often involving two or three visits as part of the decision-making process. This requires that the environment be low maintenance and always in premium condition, and that the materials allow for a high degree of precision in terms of installation and workmanship. And the combination of modular carpet, porcelain and removable area rugs supports this objective. 

In the New York location, which is a higher traffic setting, the proportion of materials and positioning varies. The flooring product was not only selected due to the nature of the traffic coming in off the street, but also because it allowed the design firm to maintain a consistent look and feel across the brand, as well as to adjust the proportions and placement of the materials in light of the site-specific requirements.

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