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The charrette in which I took part in focused on the highstreet and how we view brands. The initial focus on brands was to make us think about our perception of a product purely through how the logo looked. We then discussed, through looking at various companies, how their marketing of themselves on platforms, such as, websites, shows how the company choses to be represented, linking to their ethos. This was for us to begin to engage with the idea of how shops are represented and how these places make us feel. We were then told we would be split into groups and chose, as random, one shop on Newcastle highstreet to analyse and come up with one word per person that describes the shop through your experience.

When splitting into groups they wanted each group to have at least one masters student and one undergraduate student, so as a 6th year student I was paired with a 2nd year student. To keep it fair the way in which the stores were chosen was by picking a name out of a box. Our group picked the shop, Claire’s, which as two adult men, the thought of having to go into Claire’s, made us immediately uncomfortable, like we would be judged for going in there alone.

Upon arriving the shop was empty apart from the person at the counter and one customer. As we walked into the shop fake gold and silver earrings greeted us. Progressing further and further into the shop it only got worse … bows, unicorns, bags, bags that were made to look like unicorns. Simply put it was … trashy. From this we realised we had our two words! “Trashy” and “uncomfortable”.

Since we had our words we then began to think about how to represent these feelings to hopefully make people think of Claire’s, when they see them. It was clear what we had to do. Pink. A lot of it. For the word “trashy” we pimped it out with similar accessories and sparkles used by the shop, including the jewelry and unicorn horns we noticed, whilst forcing ourselves deeper into the shop. Then, we turned our attention to the word “uncomfortable” and wondered how we could visually express our feelings. After some thinking we realised the tests used to check you’re a human being on computer (an in the image of the distorted word that you’re forced to type out), which we thought was actually a bit disturbing to look at. Therefore the word “uncomfortable” was distorted (although still very pink) to look like one of these tests so that as people look at it they might themselves feel the emotion we felt.

 

To enable us to continue thinking about how to further represent these words we have chosen for our stores, we played a game of charades and Pictionary to try and describe various emotions.

From this we then had to take our words we had chosen for our store and produce drawings and models of Claire’s. Our task was to do this from looking at an architectural example, as well as an artistic precedent, which are related to the words chosen for the store.

From this we made a version of the actual store front of Claire’s and combined it with the conceptual model made previously.

At the end of the charrette is became clear that it was not simply about the shops themselves. In fact I think they weren’t really important, this is because the shops are all leaving the high street, it was about the feeling of high street itself and the importance of this in a community/ urban environment.

School of Architecture
Planning and Landscape
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear, NE1 7RU

Tel: 0191 208 6509

Email: nicola.rutherford@ncl.ac.uk


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