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In Search of the Perfect Daytime Storefront: II. Dodging Double Vision

I have probably posted these notes about daytime storefronts in the wrong order. This post really should have been first because the images provide a visual definition of the main problem a designer faces when dealing with storefront display options at a time of day when the sun is shinning brightly. That would clearly be the tendency of exterior expanses of glass to produce reflections to the extend that we almost always experience at least a double and often a triple, or more, image. Consideration of the shops in the images below proves to be instructive.

Is this a cafe, a bar, a coffee shop? The only thing we know for sure from the street is that it is open, that there is head in street parking in front, a multistory brick building and more street parking across the street. Maybe they do something with hunting because there is a poster or other image of a deer in the window. The things we actually know about the place are mostly defined by the architecture. Wainscoting and historic columns are often seen in restaurants so we naturally make the connection to food. Further, there is a strange cafe curtain in the window, think bakery, as well as what appears to be printed blackboards, both also, associated with food. Otherwise we are in the dark, or in this case reflected light.
I will save the description here. By now the idea should be clear. If the storefront display is not strong enough to dominate the visual field it will not be seen no matter how nicely designed and planned. It will disappear into the scene reflected on the glass.
The only element strong enough to be seen in this daytime window are the interior lights. Because the merchandise had been placed so close to the interior glass we do understand that they must be selling some type of magazines or printed material, but the actual images are distorted by the reflected scene and clarity is impossible.

Bridget Gaddis, is a Licensed Architect and LEED-accredited Professional practicing nationally, and locally in the Washington DC area. She holds professional degrees in both Architecture and Interior Design, and with a comprehensive background in commercial retail design, planning and construction has completed projects for such for such well known brands as Chloe, Zegna, and Bvlgari. Her career began in tenant coordination and site planning for two well-known Cleveland developers, followed by six years in store planning for a national retailer. After a move to New York City in 1997, she spent the next years working for architecture firms specializing in retail projects. In 2011 she started her own practice in Alexandria, VA. Ms. Gaddis is the author of two blogs dealing with architectural subjects.

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