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  • Cecile Corral

Avonhome's Style.Lab targets retailers

Recognizing the value of involving its customers in all design aspects of product development, Avonhome has evolved its format from just a showcase of finished product into something it believes will be a true differentiator.

Dubbed "Style.Lab," Avon's new penthouse space, a 5,500-square-foot corner showroom, is at 295 Fifth Ave. Lined with 12-foot-tall windows, it fuses a traditional showroom environment with a product development studio.

"The two are no longer separate," Chris Mooney, vp, marketing and design, told HTT. "We've analyzed the marketplace and found that for us to remain relevant to retailers we need to become more important to them. You can clearly see assortments are suffering as a result of retailers sourcing themselves."

Traditionally a supplier of table linens, Avonhome embarked on an expansion of its offerings to include more coordinated products, such as decorative pillows, kitchen textiles, scatter rugs and throws.

The Style.Lab complements that growth. Mooney said the new space has multiple artwork stations and pin-up areas, and is equipped with a library of documents, artwork, product swatches, archival references and periodicals, as well as various traditional table linen product presentations.

"The Style.Lab allows us to sell everything that is finished product as well as future projects still in the works but in a more rudimentary stage. The buyer also becomes more of a part of the process and is more committed to seeing the development through in this fashion," Mooney said.

The space also features a full-size 24-foot planogram run to aid customers in visualizing actual merchandising concepts.

During market last week, Style.Lab displayed the spring 2004 line of finished product and artwork; samplings of seasonal and holiday 2004 collections; and initial spring 2005 ideas.

"We're essentially shifting ourselves from a table linen manufacturer to a purveyor of creative merchandising ideas with an emphasis on table linens," Mooney said.

Also setting the right vibe for design, Mooney noted, are the many quotes from merchants adorning the walls. Among them, Edward Filene who said in 1907, "It is economic treason to shop carelessly."

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