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Hiller’s Sails Into Town


Hiller’s, a family-owned supermarket chain based in Southfield, Mich., isn’t a proponent of cookie-cutter store design. For its seventh location, in Commerce Township, Mich., the company adopted a theme that reflected the upscale locale, which is renowned for its many lakes.

“Each store has a very unique and different personality, and Hiller’s wanted this particular one to respect and feel part of the area’s lake lifestyle,” said Tony Camilletti, VP, strategic development, Design Fabrications (D|Fab), Madison Heights, Mich. “From a design aspect, we tried to give the store an aquatic feel without going over the top with outright nautical elements.”

The color scheme of the 50,000-sq.-ft. store goes a long way in that regard. The teal ceiling (open) and muted palette of blues and greens give the interior a serene, underwater feel. Wavy, rippling abstract graphics add a fluid touch to the perimeter walls and featured departments.

“We used layered, translucent images of rippling water and abstract shapes of billowing sails to evoke the feeling of being on a lake,” Camilletti said.

At Hiller’s request, the verbiage on the wayfinding signage was kept to a minimum, enhancing the store’s serene, calm feel and clean lines. (One of the few exceptions was the aisle directories.)

“We used a lot of photographic imagery to alert shoppers as to what they would find in the different service areas,” Camilletti added. “For instance, the deli area has a photo mural of a multi-stacked sandwich, and the seafood area has an image of rippling water.”

The photos were applied to a material known as FRP (fiberglass reinforced panels), which is typically used on the walls in food-processing areas since it meets most sanitary codes.

“We printed on the FRP with a dye sublimation process that didn’t compromise its sanitary components,” Camilletti explained.

Baffles made of a translucent acrylic material highlight the produce and floral departments. Corresponding images are printed directly on the material.

“In the floral department, we used large petal-shaped panels of the material and spiraled it around the existing columns to look like a stem,” Camilletti said. “It’s very colorful and works to draw customers into the space without spelling it out.”

Prepared foods are displayed up front, in circular cases in what’s known as the Captains Table. The area is highlighted with a compass motif in the floor and a circular canopy overhead.

A focal wall featuring a free-form flowing abstract design runs along the rear wall, behind the seafood and meat counters.

“It’s a printed vinyl wallcovering, and it creates focal interest at the back of the store,” Camilletti said.

The design of the aisle directories mimics the flowing ribbon of color along the back wall.

Splashes of reds and oranges and warm wood flooring draw attention to the deli and bakery. The service areas each are defined from above by striped awnings and printed graphics on the lower part of the wall.

In an added decorative touch, an exaggerated (22-in. wide) crown molding wraps the entire perimeter of the store.

“It provides a nice detail at the top of the wall,” Camilletti said.

Vinyl composition tile (VCT) is featured throughout the store.

“We particularly liked the depth and texture of the non-skid VCT, which we used in floral, produce and the entire front of the store,” Camilletti said. “We used vinyl wood planking in the bakery and deli. But it’s all vinyl, making the floor easy to maintain throughout.”

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