First established in 1911, Wakefields is a fourth-generation, independent family jewellers that has been at the heart of the retail community in the West Sussex market town of Horsham for 110 years. They combine a passion for fine jewellery and watches, and boast an impressive collection of iconic watch brands, such as Rolex and Tudor, alongside an array of fine gemstone jewellery and striking bespoke designs.
Designed by Innovare Design
Photographed by Toby Phillips
“We have a successful and well-established business”, say co-owners and siblings, Melanie and Dominic Wakefield, “but independent high street stores like ours need to work extra hard to stay relevant and attract shoppers today. Even before the pandemic hit, we were working on our strategy to embrace both the new digital world of shopping as well as elevating our instore experience for customers. So when Rolex suggested expanding their space with us, we decided to invest in a full store redesign and refurbishment.”
Wakefields commissioned London based retail design consultants Innovare Design to help them realise their store design vision. “We knew what we wanted to achieve but how to get there was a bit daunting at first,” says Melanie Wakefield. “However, Innovare Design guided us through from start to finish and allowed us to feel like part of the design team. They involved us at every stage of the process to ensure we felt in control and reassured about all the decisions we were taking.”
The client brief for the new design was to achieve a luxury boutique feel without losing the much-loved warmth and charm of Wakefield’s previous interior. “We wanted a high-end store with a ‘wow factor’ but also somewhere customers would still feel relaxed enough to pop in for a coffee and a chat,” said Dominic Wakefield.
In addition, Innovare Design wanted the concept to celebrate Wakefields’ extensive heritage, their professionalism and expertise, as well as their exceptional level of customer care. Practically, the design also needed to accommodate a larger Rolex showroom, create more distinctive curated display zones, and increase the number of relaxed customer consultation spaces.
The inspiration for the interior design concept was the existing 1930’s shopfront, which has been a landmark on Horsham’s high street for over a century. This Art Deco classic styling has been balanced with contemporary design elements throughout – from the terrazzo entrance foyer to the refined bronze details on the bespoke display cabinets; from the styling of mirrors and screens to the interior cornicing.
“We also wanted to restore and replicate some of the original architectural details lost in previous shopfits, such as the skylights – one of which has been adapted to include false day lighting, to enable the upper floors to be repurposed for offices and a workshop” says Lloyd Blakey, Creative Director at Innovare Design. “Elsewhere, behind the hospitality bar, we replicated some much-loved old display cabinets, which Wakefields originally inherited from Boots the Chemist back in 1935.”
It’s this attention to detail that delights. The new store design not only expresses Wakefields brand qualities through its luxurious, richly coloured and comfortable environment, all elements come together in a celebration of the exquisite jewellery and watches on display.
The space also flows beautifully: from the ground floor - which features the newly expanded Rolex boutique, a hospitality and welcome bar, and a further watch selection - steps lead to a raised ground floor housing fashion, bridal and bespoke jewellery. There is a choice of sumptuous seating areas throughout, including semi and fully private consultation areas for those customers who prefer a more discrete service.
Lighting plays a critical role, carefully layered from the window display right through the store to provide sparkle and highlight to the jewellery and watches collections. Ambient lighting combines with bespoke feature chandeliers and softer more intimate pendant lighting to deliver the right overall warmth and atmosphere for a store of this quality.
“We are thrilled with the new store design” said Melanie Wakefield. “It allows us to create a truly special and memorable experience for every one of our customers. We’ve been delighted by all the positive responses. During the pandemic we’ve attracted new local customers who would previously have bought their jewellery and watches from London’s Hatton Garden – they are very happy to have an alternative luxury destination store closer to home.”
Dominic Wakefield concludes,“Despite the obvious pent-up demand post lockdown, the new store is definitely contributing to a significant uplift in trading.”