+ Text Close Project

The former CEO of Ulta Beauty, Lyn Kirby, took the helm of Beauty Brands in 2014 and appointed our studio to lead a major rebranding. We designed the brand’s new identity and retail prototype with the intent of elevating the value-based chain into an upscale, yet accessible beauty destination – focusing on expertise and a sophisticated, modern American beauty sensibility.

A retail and salon concept founded in the mid 1990s, Beauty Brands has been reinvented as a contemporary shop-salon-spa concept focused on bringing together a curated edit of the best independent labels and established brands, as well as offering high-quality beauty treatments across its 60+ stores. We set out to create a natural and intelligent alternative to the statement-making aesthetic offered by competitors while maintaining an essential dose of femininity. The complete system included the brand’s identity, retail and e-commerce packaging, retail signage and graphics, printed matter and art direction for advertising and campaigns, with photography shot by Matthew Sprout. A brand book, introducing the new concept to the industry features original watercolors by illustrator Marcel George.

Our transformation of the retail environment required major alterations to existing locations and the complete design of new stores. The new prototypical design moves the salon-spa to the front of the space alongside the shop (before it was hidden in the back) to showcase its focus on expert treatments on one side of the store, and retail products and experiential feature areas on the other side. New elements introduced into the retail space include the Beauty Bench, a long bar for tutorials and events at the front of the store; a Beauty Concierge for booking treatments; and a series of Beauty Bars for complexion, brows, hair and fragrance – making the store an interactive gathering space where visitors can learn, socialize and experiment.

Clear visibility through the space and maximizing daylight were prioritized to breakdown the large retail space so it feels calm and ordered. The challenge was to create an index of different brands that sat next to one another within a wider environment. We looked at great library precedents, galleries and museums of objects to help us define a balanced, almost curatorial display of multiple brands. The concept can be shopped entirely on one’s own with no need for assistance, but includes many spaces for expert guidance and advice when needed – allowing visitors to tailor the experience to suit their needs.

Natural materials and a warm, light palette reflect the retailer’s sensibility. Contrasting terrazzo floors were used in the shop and salon-spa to differentiate these two areas. A hand-plastered wall in the brand’s signature soft peach color extends the length of the main route and white oak fixtures and screens are used in feature spaces. The natural and light interior invites customers of all ages and presents an understated, yet sophisticated take on modern beauty.

RDI, International Store Design Awards, Outstanding Merit, 2015.