We have worked with Utility, an independent retailer selling designer furniture, lighting, homeware and gifts, for a couple of years.

They have a well-established online presence, as well as three stores already open in Liverpool. We were commissioned to design Utility's fourth store - in Manchester’s recently redeveloped Oxford Road.

The Manchester store heavily features gifts and homewares, carefully selected with quality, style and design at the forefront. We made sure that these three principles were reflected in our design, creating a contemporary environment which conveys style whilst promoting the products themselves, ensuring they are the hero.

Through the use of a muted colour and material palette we managed to create a modern, simplistic look with warm and inviting tones. Fixtures were made from sleek steel frames, paired with birch-faced plywood shelves, and card and pegboard wall panels which lend the space a softer, natural feel.

We designed reading bays to specifically function like a bookstand, enabling customers to spend as much time as they wanted flicking through the pages of a book.

We selected the lighting and infrastructure based on a clean, utilitarian aesthetic which complements the overall honesty of the store concept.

On entering the store, customers are greeted with a metre high Utility logo displayed on the large bulkhead, a sign that gives the store a visible presence from the road, especially at night. Oxford Road is the busiest bus route in Europe, so we felt it was important that it was recognised from every available position.

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