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Monday, October 30, 2006

Bloomingdale's Bathroom Makeover

My first job out of college was in the Bloomingdale's Third Avenue/NYC store when Bloomingdale's represented the ultimate in glamour and fashion. Thanks to the work of a team of very talented and visionary designers, those days are back! I'm very excited to share the following post contributed by Lisa A. Contreras, Senior Associate, Retail Group Resource Director at MANCINI DUFFY ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN, located in New York City. Lisa has led the team redesigning the Bloomingdale's Third Avenue store in NYC for the past 7 years and the results have been drop-dead gorgeous!

When I think of using public restrooms, I often cringe. Bright fluorescent lighting, floor to ceiling tile, and metal toilet partitions make these spaces feel uninviting and very utilitarian.

Recently, I had the experience of designing the new 4th floor Women’s Lounge and Restroom facility for Bloomingdales at their flagship 59th St Store in NYC. Bloomingdales has been re-strengthening their brand identity over the last several years and I have been fortunate to lead the Mancini Duffy team of designers in assisting Bloomingdales in creating and re-branding their customer experience package.

This customer experience challenge with Bloomingdales was to create glamour, to bring the brand identity of Bloomies to each Customer Experience and to make the space easy to maintain by Bloomingdales in house facilities team. The palette is inspired by 1930s glamour which we have updated and made “modern deco”. Bloomingdales signature Black brings drama to the space, along with creamy polished marble floors with black granite borders, polished chrome sconces with white linen shades, silvery gray wallcoverings, and lots of mirrors.

The Women’s Restroom facility is divided into three zones:

As the customer enters our restroom facility from the newly renovated Intimate Apparel Department (another renovation by Mancini Duffy bringing customer service to the much needed Intimate Apparel world), she is greeted in the lounge area with comfortable seating to the left and a make-up area on the right. A classic Platner table with fresh flowers sparkles in the center of the room. Comfortable seating is a must. (There are many times that I have needed to check my blackberry when I am out and about and this is perfect). We chose fabrics that have a soft hand, but wear like iron in quilted silvers and blacks. The make-up area is accented with a black granite counter and ’30 French inspired cream lacquer chairs in a silver fabric (solution dyed yarn, of course, for easy cleaning). Good lighting and lots of mirrors round out the space.

Next is the sink area. Here, the area is highlighted with beveled halo lit mirrors, black granite counters, and “flocked” damask wall covering (that is actually a vinyl wall covering). We created a gallery shelf in clear glass and polished chrome for hand towels and easy disposals in the sink top for the trash (all the guts of big trash bins, etc are hidden from the customer view but easy to access for the cleaning crew).

The toilet rooms are individual rooms with frosted glass and black rubbed wood doors. Inside the rooms, the customer will find hooks for coats and bags and a purse shelf for her convenience. The baby change area is easily accessible for a Mom with a stroller, but the actual changing pad is hidden from view. (Even as a mother of a young son myself, I don't like to have to watch another Mom change a dirty diaper in public.)
The new Bloomingdale's 4th floor Women's Lounge and Restroom opened to the public in May 2006, and have been a huge success. Lisa's team has taken the basic design stategy and rolled it out to most of the Bloomingdale's branch stores, with the balance to be completed in 2007. In NJ, for example, Short Hills has recently been updated.

In addition to the 4th floor Women's Lounge and Restroom, and Intimate Apparel Department, Mancini Duffy has redesigned the Bloomingdale's giftwrap, elevator lobbies, personal shopping service and the Visitor Center [for out-of-town guests] to further enhance the shopper's customer experience and strengthen the Bloomingdale's brand identity. The entire 59th Street Store is being re-worked floor by floor to consistently reinforce the brand experience throughout the store.

I encourage you to visit Bloomingdale's on Third Avenue in NYC and experience for yourself the power of a fully integrated brand and store identity, where every detail exists to delight the consumer and reinforce the customer experience - even in the bathroom!

How might you do the same in your store?

Check out the posts so far today from the following Bathroom Blogfest 2006 participants:

- Susan Abbott at Customer Experience Crossroads recently posted about Bathroom Blogfest: Clubs.

- Stephanie Weaver at Experienceology recently posted Bathroom Blogfest Begins and Calgon Take Me Away.

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