CHICAGO -GlobalShop 2013, the trade show for point-of-purchase displays and retail interiors, is loaded with wood products as it continues its three-day run through April 18 in Chicago. Whether engineered, textured, rustic or reclaimed, wood remains a mainstay, with a significant number of architectural millwork and retail interior construction firms among the 640 exhibitors.

The 180,000 square foot show is also the awards event for the store interiors association. Retail interior buildouts at New York stores took two of the top three awards given by the Association for Retail Environments at GlobalShop: Store of the Year for Tiffany & Co.'s latest SoHo location; Visual Presentation of the Year for a Wolverine Company Store neighborhood shop; and a JanSport Retail Kiosk in Buford, GA that uses reclaimed wood, were the top three winners recognized last night by ARE.

A walk through the aisles in McCormick Place's West hall finds plenty of lumber and panel put to use. John Ellis, president of Newood Display Fixture Manufacturing, Eugene, OR, exhibited its specialty: plantation poplar tables from wood harvested in the U.S. Northwest. Is wood in or out these days for store fixtures, we asked.

"The are always companies that lean toward wood," said Ellis, citing businesses like outdoor firms and wineries that trend toward the rustic look. "But there are also design trends." He noted that steel and glass periodically rise in popularity, but, "We're seeing an increase in demand for wood now." A tiered display table made from albus is being showcased by Newood.

The mix of LED lighting and displays is advancing at a blistering pace. Hardware supplier Rev-a-Shelf's Tresco LED business has a big display with all the electronics and lighting applications required. Lucite also has some interesting innovations in that malleable plastic - showing Lucitelux with a unique composition for light transmittal, regardless of how it is shaped or cut. 

Pergo is showing PergoPro, a snap together flooring that is industrial grade, so it can bear heavy weight. It can be installed rapidly, for overnight makeovers of displays.

Spirit International, which does full store interiors, as well as building and installing displays and kiosks, was showing its wide range of capabilities. One project being sown is a classic round oak table in a two-tiered design, created for Kirkland as a retail candle display. It was made robustly to support the heavy candles, then run in 1,000 copies - turning Spirit's production floor into a furniture factory for a spell. Matt Ryburn says the store buildout business has slowed, so Spirit is doing more fixtures and fewer whole stores. It has also diversified to architectural millwork for schools.

"I'm working with general contractors - that's something I've never had to do," he says.

Wood laminates and slatwall have taken on even more luxurious textured surfaces, and turned more colorful as well. We asked Lamin-Art president Don Krog if retail interior designers were moving away from wood, to other materials.

"I can't say there is a move away from wood," Krog said. He does detect a move toward making wood look more contemporary, perhaps less rustic.

"There is a trend toward brighter, shinier colors and accents," he noted, and to more pronounced textures. "We're seeing more and more of it."

A scion of the panel industry, Krog has cut a highly individual path for Lamin-Art, and the firm is frequently called upon directly by big retail brand owners to develop unique product lines - a real burlap panel for Starbucks, a high-end textured panel for Estee Lauder's new cosmetics line.

Brand owners "go to a lot of trouble to find the right texture."

Find more coverage of GlobalShop through The show runs through today at Chicago's McCormick Place.



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