Pets at Home Proposed Redevelopment
New Friend Market.
As the user enters the square they feel immediately familiar with their surroundings, not like they would with their own home, but like they would at a Christmas market, a feeling this design heavily emulates.
New Friend Market was a response to a client brief presented by Pets at Home. The company wished to further branch out into the puppy and kitten sector, and was willing to overhaul or drop its existing branding and visual identity to do so.
The design proposal would have to be multi-faceted, being not just a retail space but an educational and social space as well, perhaps even more so the latter two than the former, although all, inevitably, leading back to sales.
The proposal would require a veterinary component, a place for old and new users to ask and consult professionals, space for social gatherings such as puppy training sessions, and individual shopping areas for puppies and kittens respectively.
Year of design:
Pets At Home
Visual references for the market setting. The top, an outdoor town square market in France, below, an existing architectural interpretation.
Due to the long list of required functions the proposal had to contain and achieve, I was immediately drawn to modularity in design, but it also had to be something with a strong identity. Modularity necessitated constant change, flux; something that could be different at every new location.
Thus, markets. The perfect, and already very much proven, visual inspiration that gave the project legs the entire way through.
Building off the existing strengths of markets, namely modular market stands/stalls, I slowly developed a basic architecture, this proposal’s market stands as a starting point.
Modularity is still key, so the layout could continuously be moved and reshaped to create an ever-evolving retail environment. The Market can even be split further into smaller sections such as promenades or even individual units that could be deployed in town centres for marketing and consumer outreach.
The brief’s spatial constraints combined with wanting both a free-form, open atmosphere and more intimate, engaging areas led to the formation of the Town Square shape.
The proposal revolves around the professional help in the centre, with other goods and services placed around like a doughnut. Help is always within reach in this proposal, creating an encouraging ambiance that only ever strengthens the retail experience. Users would be free to explore as they so please, with this sense of exploration being a major theme originally present in real markets that the proposal recreates.
The proposal is clearly shown to have the ability to exhibit both open transitional spaces alongside slower-paced retail zones. The connection and interplay between the two is what makes the space so engaging for the user.
In the layout example, the design acknowledges that given that puppy and dog owners may choose to bring their pets in-store, the ‘Puppy Stuff’ area is located both near a permanent entrance, and also in an area that could be converted into a secondary entrance depending on context and requirements. Additionally, the puppy area is somewhat larger, taking up two or three stalls as opposed to the Kitten’s single full stall; the reason for this is so that low-placed food and toys could draw the dogs into their respective shopping area, with the owners following shortly after.
In the Exterior Setting example, we can see how the outside of the structure can be used to hold stock and produce around the perimeter, extending the retail space.
On the subject of ‘Puppy Stuff’, the presented naming strategy is one of casualness and earnestness, much like the proposal itself. Branding research concluded that Pets at Home struggled to fully embrace and employ its messaging, coming across like a formal, large business trying to present itself as friendly and local, as opposed to a genuinely friendly individual-run store. The branding should theoretically be hand-written, meaning it comes across as much more personable than a printed sign, and also, much like a market, has the ability to change and adapt.
As a whole, the proposal presents an evolving, ever-engaging, and immersive shopping experience that seeks to re-employ much of Pets at Home’s existing brand identity in a more novel and adventurous manner.