ARCHITECTURE AS A SELLING FORCE An American Architect describes his Problem By V. Hagopian THE problem involved in the design of A. S. Beck's store was the merchan dising of a $5.00 shoe to a clientèle of modest means who would be working on Fifth Avenue and flattered to shop there. My preference would have been to reduce the store window to the level of the eye, a shoe being a small article and usually looked down upon. However, my clients totally disagreed with this idea and insisted that I give them as much window height and as much depth and glass development in this store as possible. Although they did not explain it, I learned that the psychology underlying this is the following The wealthy woman, conscious of her social position, would not mind strolling into a store giving the salesman trouble and walking out, or buying an article much beyond the price she had set in her mind. Whereas, in this particular case, most shoppers will have the self- consciousness and timidity that goes with financial limitation. Therefore, it was important that as far as possible a sample of every article in the store be displayed so that the thinking and hesi tating about a purchase be done outside and once the customer walks into the store, the sale is an assured fact. This also expedites business. The store capacity was not actually defined to me, but it was made clear to me that the maximum number of seats was sought. The busiest days of the store would naturally be on Saturday afternoons and days preceding holidays. In some of the chain stores this company owns, the stores on such days remain open very late and they also make a rule of never opening a store on any other day but Friday. My object was to guide the attention where I wanted it and this gradually. In the store window, the attention is to be carried down to the goods displayed and to counteract the excessive height that 98 was imposed on me. This height is partly reduced by the hanging valance whose role is to hide the reflectors and reduce the glare. When the store is completed the panelling of the back in zebra wood will be done in two sections, the upper one being amaranth wood which is light absorbing and would reduce the blaze of the reflectors from the upper part. The other wood would be zebra wood, which is also a striped wood. The persistent sloping lines have also a dynamic idea which is suggested to you by the masts of a ship as a forward move ment. All the lines in the ceiling also converge to the door, which, in its scheme of decoration repeats the plan of the ceiling and holds your attention. While decoration came in the store as only an after-thought, every motive in the composition was built with a major symphonic motive in constant reprises of this design carried out in both major and minor tones in a matter analogous to a symphony. Where attention is to be concentrated, lines slope to a central line from both sides, such as the door but wherever the attention is to be carried on further, the motive repeats itself so that the eye jumps from one oblique line to another until you get what you want. The attention is held where I want it. This scheme applies to the left wall of the lobby, whereas on the right wall the lines are vertical. That is what you see when you are on your way out, and the object now is to return your attention to the hosiery counter. The plan of the lobby has its peculiar shape resulting from the position of the steel columns in the building which did not permit the transversal axis with a point of interest at each end. This was a very fortunate condition as it permitted me a good argument to the owner in favour of this scheme. My real object was that as you entered the store you

Commercial Art / Art and Industry en | 1929 | | page 20