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Madelynn Ringo, Founder of Ringo Studio / Head of Studio Design at Modern Age

This episode of the RETHINK Retail Podcast was recorded on Oct. 29, 2022.

In this episode, host Gabriella Bock is joined by Madelynn Ringo, founder of Ringo Studio, a Brooklyn-based creative collective behind some of the best store concepts including Bala, Studs, Funny Face Bakery and the Museum of Ice Cream.

Madelynn is also the Head of Studio Design at Modern Age, a longevity clinic offering expert, proactive care for how you look and feel.

Prior to founding Ringo Studio, Madelynn served as the Senior Retail Designer for Glossier, where she was an architectural designer and creative lead on retail experiences in Miami, Boston, Austin, and Atlanta.

During their conversation, Gabriella and Madelynn discuss the design trends making their way into today’s retail experiences, which trends are on the out, as well as Madelynn’s personal journey to how she became the creative visionary behind some very iconic spaces.

If you enjoyed this episode, please let us know by subscribing to our channel and giving us a 5 star rating us on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

Post Transcript

Gabriella Bock:
Hello, and welcome back to another episode of the Rethink Retail podcast. I’m your host, Gabriella Bock, and today, I’m speaking with my very special guest, Madelynn Ringo. Madelynn is a celebrated architectural designer and the founder of Ringo Studio, a Brooklyn based creative collective that’s behind some of the country’s best known store concepts, including Bala, Studs, Funny Face Bakery, and even the Museum of Ice Cream, which I bet if you haven’t visited, I’m sure you’ve had several friends who have and posted their pastel pictures to Instagram. Madelynn is also the head of Studio Design at Modern Age, which is a longevity clinic offering proactive care for how you look and feel. And prior to founding Ringo Studio, Madelynn served as the senior retail designer for Glossier, where she was an architectural designer and the creative lead on retail experiences for the brand in cities such as Miami, Boston, Austin, and Atlanta. Madelynn also holds a master’s degree in architecture from this little university called Yale. Madelynn, it’s so great to have you here. Thank you so much for joining the show today.

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Thank you for having me. Excited to chat with you today.

 

Gabriella Bock:
Absolutely. Well, I’m super excited to have you on because you have designed some incredible spaces. The work you’ve done with Glossier, the Museum of Ice Cream, the Studs, it’s just all remarkable work. And before we get there, I would kind of like to take it back a bit and learn a little bit more about you and what really drew you into this field. How did you get to where you are now, to designing these incredible retail spaces?

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Yeah, so I’ve always been a creative. I grew up in a very creative family surrounded by painting and arts of many different mediums, photography, jewelry making, and I’ve always really enjoyed in the participation of fashion and self-expression through those different creative versions of self-expression. And I’ve always been kind of blending some of these elements together. I’ve also had very much a interest in entrepreneurship and kind of building something new, whether that be using something in the creative field, like graphic skills and making a poster to launch an initiative in school or using my leadership skills to host an architecture conference in college. So, I’ve always been interested in blending a lot of those two together. And specifically in architecture and interior design, it’s a medium where you can bring inspiration from so many different industries and trends, theater and lighting design, and fashion even. And it’s an art form of storytelling. And I really love working with color and light and materiality and the potential of creating these spaces that transport somebody to a different world.

Yeah, and I think I went to architecture school at the University of Kentucky and had a lovely four years there and was exposed to some really incredible professors. And then I came to New York after that and began my first kind of professional experiences in architecture, and I worked for a small design office and did some really incredible museum work with them. And then I got my toes wet with working as an in-house designer for a brand. And some of those first professional experiences I think really formed a lot about the way I was thinking about the storytelling components of architecture and design. But also, that initial experience of being an in-house designer as part of a larger brand, it kind of gave me a glimpse at a very young age into what it means to communicate a brand, both through copy and messaging and marketing, but also through physical space.

 

Gabriella Bock:
Something that really just kind of stuck out to me what you were just sharing with us, Madelynn, is kind of describing the new way in which retailers are thinking about store design is as almost if it’s like a stage. You spoke about theater and lighting and play as if the shopper is a member of the audience. And so now it becomes that everything from the walls to the interiors to every interaction with a sales associate to the way the shelves are merchandise. It’s all become this very integral part of the story, which I think is definitely demonstrated in a lot of the stores and spaces that you’ve designed, Madelynn, and kind of a trend that we are seeing a lot of recently. And I definitely want to pick your brain more on trends in a little bit. But before we get there, I just want to know, I’m super curious to know what was the first store that you designed.

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Yeah, the first store I designed, it wasn’t really a store. It was a ping pong club in Los Angeles, and that goes back to when I was talking about one of my first professional experiences. When I moved to New York after college, I began working at the Standard Hotel as one of their in-house designers. And it was an incredible… I was there for a very short amount of time. I think it was just like maybe somewhere between five and six months. I was very much a young baby intern, and so my role was somewhat insignificant in this, but it was such a fun project. So, the Standard Hotel, if you know that brand, they are delightful across so many different scales of detail. And this particular project was to renovate their downtown Los Angeles Standard Hotel. We were removing all of the conference rooms from the space and turning it into a ping pong club that had this very kind of vintagey, loungey feeling to it. And it was also a partnership with Susan Sarandon’s company, Spin.

 

Gabriella Bock:
Oh, okay.

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Yeah, so it was a really fun… It had so many different… The project had so many different levels to it. It was partnering with Susan, and it was partnering with the hotel. It was inside of a hotel, and it was also a branded experience for the standard and it had this sense of movement and playfulness to it. So, that was a really fun first kind of professional design project. And I think the Standard Hotel, like I said, is just such an inspirational brand in that they carry their brand language across every single touchpoint. I was recently in their new hotel in Bangkok and I was just kind of overwhelmed with the cleverness of how perfect every detail, from the architecture to the way that the signs that you put on the back of your door read and to the way that they direct you to the elevator and the music in the elevator.

Every little moment of that customer experience is so thoughtful and designed, and it’s such an inspiration. So yeah, that was such a great kind of introduction to both brand design, but also something that had a customer, not quite retail, but a customer experience involved.

 

Gabriella Bock:
It’s an interesting project because you normally wouldn’t kind of couple the sophistication of the Standard Hotel with something like ping pong.

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Right, but that’s what they’re great at. They’re great at getting those opposing ideas and finding that perfectly clever way to surprise you.

 

Gabriella Bock:
I love it. And how many rounds of ping pong did you have to play to figure out the spatial dynamics of designing a room like that?

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Yeah, so I can’t say that I’m great at ping pong, but one of my roles within that process was, we covered the space in a lot of really incredible imagery of celebrities playing ping pong, which is kind of like… I don’t know, I guess there’s… For some reason, there’s photographs of all sorts of celebrities playing ping pong. So, part of my task was to find these images from music celebrities to fashion celebrities to even Barack Obama. And so I got to do a lot of research on that project, and it was really fun research, kind of finding these iconic images.

 

Gabriella Bock:
Yeah, wow. Well, what a super cool kind of first real professional experience to get your feet wet. And also, I didn’t know that Barack Obama was such in avid ping pong player, so very happy that I now possess that bit of trivia.

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Yes.

 

Gabriella Bock:
So, we talked about the store kind of being a stage. What are some of the other big trends that you think are really influencing experiential store design today? What are you seeing? What are clients asking for?

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Yeah, so I’m definitely seeing some shifts in a lot of the different client conversations that we’re having. Particularly, I think the pandemic drove a lot of this change, but when clients are coming to us now and they’re interested in creating a retail space, there’s always something a little bit more than just the transaction of selling a product that’s displayed on a shelf now. So, oftentimes, it’s coming with this other service component, whether that be with the example of Studs, shopping for jewelry, but also coming to the space to have an ear piercing experience. Or with Modern Age, it is a longevity clinic, so you’re coming there and you are talking with professionals, and you might be buying skincare products or supplements, but you’re also able to get services from clinicians. And so there’s this kind of service and retail component. And then in some lighter ways, there is also this idea of retail, but with a side of a coffee shop, or retail with a side of a juice store.

So, I’m noticing this kind of very intentional pairing of things, and I think that is all about building community and creating inclusivity within the brand and creating a more of a place where customers can hang out and spend time, and that starts to enable the brand to create more than just a transactional space, but a space that expresses their brand mission or creates a much more holistic environment for their customers. Also, even down to one of our projects that will be opening soon, we talked a lot about bringing in the component of a cooking class into the space. So, yeah, I think… Yeah, that’s the trend I’m seeing, is not only retailer, or maybe even that the retail component is getting much smaller in the footprint of the store and that this community space is getting much larger in the store.

 

Gabriella Bock:
Yeah, that’s a super good point. And really touching upon what you just shared with us, Madelynn, is that retailers are really focusing on creating stores that serve more than one purpose. So, they’re transactional spaces, but they’re also spaces that can serve as a communal space, a place that can really foster human connection, which is so important today. And I think retailers are really focusing on so much because we know that the experiences that people can form an emotional connection to are the experiences that are going to stick in people’s minds.

 

Madelynn Ringo:
And I’d even say another sort of example of that is with our recent collaboration with Bala, the store that we designed in Soho. They also hosted classes before and after opening hours and bringing their community back in for something that was, let’s use the Bala products, but in class, with often an influencer, someone who is really well known for their teaching style, but using those products in the context of an activity, which was really interesting in that. So, we designed that store with the idea in mind that, at some point, the retail elements had to disappear so that we could make way for yoga mats.

 

Gabriella Bock:
And so thinking about having to design a space that can, one, house an entire yoga class, but at the same time, you still have to sell products, what kind of challenges does that present to you then as a designer? And how do you go about finding the right balance between those two different elements?

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Yeah, so it definitely creates a more complex problem because you’re adding multiple layers of operations into the floor plan. You’re adding the retail operations and the storage and the need for merchandising and storytelling, but then you’re also adding in the complexities of events and gatherings of 20 to 50 people. And I think it forces us to think about how the design is both great as a backdrop for the merchandise, but also how the design is a backdrop for other types of content. How does the space look, both at the smaller scale if somebody is taking a photo of the merchandise, but also maybe someone is shooting TikTok content or is shooting brand content or the video of a class or of a discussion or of a fireside chat that’s happening in the space? So, yeah, we have to think a little bit about how the store and the objects that we’re designing in the store can both feel permanent and fixed, so that when a customer is there for the retail experience, it doesn’t feel secondary or it doesn’t feel temporal.

But then when they come back for the other activity, it also needs to look and feel like the space was designed for that experience as well. So, thinking a lot about, yeah, kind of also even some of the very basic complexities of how heavy is it. How heavy are these objects, and how can we easily move them around the space and transform the space from specifically an operational standpoint?

 

Gabriella Bock:
Yeah. Well, and this is something I’ve at least personally experienced, but I’ve definitely been in stores where just the sheer amount of products that there are in this store can be kind of overwhelming and it makes shopping a little more challenging. And I think this is something that we’re seeing retailers kind of incorporate in their stores, which is this notion that less is more from a merchandising standpoint, but are there also design laws that support this notion as well?

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Yeah, I think there’s kind of two scenarios I’m thinking about. One where the brand is just showcasing their own products, but there’s also a lot of stores that are doing multi-brand retail. And so not only are you thinking about the simplicity of the product and the storytelling, but sometimes you might even be thinking about two different brands showing up right next to each other and how that looks and feels, and how the backdrop can support a multi-brand experience, almost like the backdrop or the shelving system has to become the constant across all of the different products that may look very different from each other and may sort be visually cluttering. But I’d say in terms of design rules, yeah, I mean, we love when things are more curated and when we have the ability to do more specific storytelling. I think it also makes customers feel more relaxed while they’re shopping, and also creates a more elevated experience rather than putting so many things out on the shelves that doesn’t allow for any curiosity or any sort of wanting of more.

So, there’s definitely some great curatorial tricks just visually. And then if you are in a situation where you do need multiple brands displayed at once, I often fall back on creating a sense of grid and spacing so that the clutter feels organized or the multiple products feel structured and easy to navigate.

 

Gabriella Bock:
Yeah, that’s a good point. You mentioned grid, and I wanted to ask about how much do you think social media has impacted some of the design trends that we’re seeing right now?

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Yeah. So, definitely a lot of the spaces that I have designed over the last three to five years very much have had social media at the forefront of our discussions with the brands, with the teams, with my designers, because often we’re thinking about how customers come into the space and how they photograph the space, also how they might photograph themselves in the space. So, it certainly has influenced a lot of our work, a lot of our conversations, everything from how lighting in retail became, lighting, especially in the beauty industry, became really critical, making sure that someone’s face looked amazing in the mirror had no shadows, so that when they were taking those photos, they looked incredible. Also, I think certain colors show up better on social media, or certain tonalities of colors can kind of pop better. So, a lot of that comes… A lot of the thinking through social media comes into a lot of our design choices and design process.

This is kind of a smaller thing, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot. From grid to TikTok or grid to reels, there is now a lot more video being taken in the spaces that we design. And it’s been interesting to start to see those videos and how influencers or how customers are capturing the space while they’re moving, which is very different than the much more curated static selfie moment that we were able to design and almost give someone very clear instructions as to what to capture. But now with the increase of video in social media, it’s definitely switching again a little bit, and I’m noticing things even down to the way that lighting responds and video is different than on still images because, especially with LEDs, they can flicker in video. And you never notice that when you’re in a store, but-

 

Gabriella Bock:
When you’re editing the video, oh my gosh.

 

Madelynn Ringo:
So, that’s been something actually that’s been at the forefront of my thoughts right now, is just, yeah, kind of thinking even more detailed around how does our LED… What are the qualities of the LEDs that we’re using in our lighting design? And how do we make sure that the video being captured has some of these considerations from the design perspective? Yeah, thinking about that, so definitely thinking about video, but I’ve also, in a couple of recent client conversations… There’s so much saturation with content out in the world. On Instagram and TikTok and all of these different platforms, there’s just so much content and so much expectation now that retail stores are going to give you a selfie moment or a selfie room or something, something for your grid. And I’ve also noticed the beginning of a shift in current discussions with clients that kind of want to pull away from so literally offering that. They are starting to be more interested in keeping it a little bit more private or mysterious and less in your face and a little bit more subtle branding and not something that is going to be so stereotypical Instagrammable.

So, I’m also noticing a little shift in that, maybe a pivot away a little bit.

 

Gabriella Bock:
Interesting. That’s interesting… Because I know the millennial crowd were the ones seeking the very Instagrammable moments, very popular from 2015 onwards, maybe a little sooner than that. But I wonder if you have… What’s your take in that kind of shift away, maybe it just being not as novel anymore or-

 

Madelynn Ringo:
That’s exactly the right word. I think… Yeah, I mean, just giving a little bit more privacy to the experience or the idea that maybe there’s a little bit more sense of fun and curiosity if it’s not all over the internet and that maybe you find out word of mouth and it becomes a little bit more of a secret gem, that you know have to be doing your research and know the right people to realize that it’s there or find it or discover it. Yeah. So, I think… Yeah, I think there’s just a little bit… And I believe that’s coming a lot from just the oversaturation that we’re seeing. And it’s hard, it’s really hard right now to create a unique version of a selfie moment in a retail store because it’s happening at such an crazy fast scale on all sections of the world.

And I’m definitely a little bit curious about, this sort of shifts away from Instagram a little bit, but how design will start to translate again as it goes into the metaverse, which I have not explored, and I’m a little bit scared of it. But at the same time, I’m very intrigued, especially because of the opportunity that architecture has to influence that world. So, yeah, I’m intrigued. I’m scared I haven’t gotten anywhere near it yet, but-

 

Gabriella Bock:
It sounds like most of us here in the retail industry, intrigued, a little terrified, and very confused about what it even is, but definitely… The opportunities to create art and these very creative branded spaces, I think are pretty endless because you can do anything you want. You’re not withhold to the laws of gravity or physics or anything like that.

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Yeah.

 

Gabriella Bock:
So, I did want to ask you, because you mentioned Instagrammable moments, and a little bit of a shift away from that, but I have noticed that a lot of the spaces that you’ve designed, particularly the Glossier and the Museum of Ice Cream, they’re very kind of color forward and some of them gravitate toward a pastel hue and there’s this very innate softness and roundedness in some of the structural elements that all kind of come together in this very dreamlike essence. And those are my observations as a non-designer, so you could tell me if I’m totally off base there, but I did want to know if those designs were representative of your own personal aesthetic or more of that was what the brand wanted based off of their products or their experience?

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Yeah, definitely. I think those observations were on point. So, yeah. I see space as from a sculptural stance, and I’ve always believed in taking design risks and moving away from expectation when it comes to infusing texture and form and materials and color into the environment. So, we’re very playful when we design. There’s always a fun material that we discover and we’re dying to find the right project to slip it into. So, I’d say a lot of the brands that we work with, even though they’re quite different from Museum of Ice Cream to Studs to Modern Age to Glossier to our place, they very much have their own brand world and their own brand aesthetic. And I think our approach to that design is we find their world and we blend it with a little bit of our own. And so if you look across all the projects, it’s definitely intentional that you see a little bit of an artistic thread through them, and that’s coming from the textures that you’ll see and the bright colors, and definitely the curves.

And I think certainly sculpting the space a little bit more than a typical retail store. We definitely… We’re doing a lot of interior design, but my team is all rooted in architectural education, and so we’re always thinking really about how to sculpt the space and definitely provide that artistic and design expertise back to the brands. But I’d also say that a lot of the brands and the clients that come to us, they’re coming to us because they already have a sense of playfulness and they already have a sense of wanting to take a risk and do something different and disrupt an industry, and that’s often why they come to our design studio, to work on that level with us.

 

Gabriella Bock:
And so when they do come to you, how do you begin that design process with them?

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Yeah, so first and foremost, we need to understand their brand, understand how they came to be. We often get to work directly with the founders and the CEOs, and some of our initial conversations are really about listening to them and hearing their background, not necessarily as it relates to design, but as it relates to their brand mission and how they discovered this opportunity. And then we’re really looking at the customer journey and we’re approaching it from a spatial and sculptural viewpoint and figuring out how to give that brand experience that’s going to live and breathe within every touchpoint of the retail store, or it’s not necessarily only retail, but every touchpoint within that interior experience. For an example, just recently we started working on a new project, which is a showroom. And this is quite interesting because it’s not a typology that we’ve worked on before.

And so one of my favorite things about architecture is you get to learn about so many different industries. If you’re designing a medical clinic, you have to know everything about the operations, the clinical operations, and even the needs of the doctors and the needs of the customers from a health perspective, and even sort of sanitary perspective. But then if we’re designing a showroom, we also have to put ourselves in those customers shoes and understand why are people coming to that space and who is the profile of the person coming to that place. And particularly, a showroom is interesting for us. Something within our initial conversations with the client is that they wanted their showroom to feel a little bit more like some of the leading retail experiences of today, somewhere where people could feel like it was a destination and that they were really excited to be there, both designers, because that’s often the profile of the person going to the showroom… And by showroom, I’m talking specifically like a materials showroom, so wood flooring, wallpaper, stone, things like that.

 

Gabriella Bock:
So, they’re kind of mimicking home interior designs in a way?

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Yeah.

 

Gabriella Bock:
Okay.

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Yeah, definitely. And so one of our first steps in that process, because it was a slightly adjacent typology than what we’re typically working on, we go and investigate on the ground. So, we went to every single material showroom that we could pack into a single day in New York, and we walked around and looked at them all and played the role of the customer and played the role of the designer and took note on all of our experience, what we liked and what we didn’t like, and really put our research mode on and got in there and explored. Yeah, I think that’s one of my favorite parts of starting a new project and beginning to work with a new brand, is really just getting familiar with their products. If we’re designing for a cookware company, we need to see the pots and pans, and maybe we need to go look at other cookware companies that maybe are an old model of retail and understand what they’re doing that doesn’t resonate with us anymore.

 

Gabriella Bock:
And so when they come to you, do they come with a very specific vision in mind, or are you kind of crafting that vision for them? Or is it kind of vary from client to client?

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Yeah, I mean, I’d say that usually they don’t come with a architectural vision in mind. They often can talk very clearly and specifically about the customer experience, what they want the customer to feel, and what they want them to… what sort of messages and ideas they want them to leave the space with. But no, I think our clients are often creatives and they’re visionary people because they’ve built a company and they’re surrounded by creative directors and brand designers and people that have expertise in marketing. So, they definitely are creatives, but they’re creative skill sets really compliments ours. And I think they do give us the freedom and the opportunity to both see their brand through a different lens and sort present it back to them through the lens of architecture and material, but then they really add to the conversation. Even if they can’t necessarily speak architecture or speak the technical language of design and detailing, they give us incredible feedback and help us make sure that each step of the way, we’re constantly filtering it back through their brand mission and that sort of shining star.

So yeah, we have a lot of freedom, but it’s also a very collaborative process, and I think that’s one of the really exciting parts about this particular niche within the design industry that we’re operating in. And we get to work with some of the coolest brands and companies out there that are building really incredible things. So, we learn just as much from them about marketing strategies and creative direction and brand campaigns, and we get to learn the inner workings of their business, which is really cool.

 

Gabriella Bock:
Yeah, and I mean, how fun to be able to work together on that and then share in the experience at the end where you get to bask in the physicality of what you’ve done or seeing everything come to life.

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Yeah, and I think we often work with brands on a series of projects, and sometimes that’s a series of retail stores, so we’re working with them not only to design a single space, but how do we then take that idea and create a kit of parts that then can be scaled all across many different cities? So, that’s one way that we’ve developed relationships with clients. In other cases… For example, in the case of Bala, we worked with them across a few different design projects, one being the retail store, which we mentioned transitions into this kind of fitness class space. But then we also worked with them to create a set for an app that they launched, Bala Size, where they are filming content, their own branded content, filming fitness classes, and then offering those classes back to their customers. So, that was great because we did the store on a certain design process, and then we also created this physical experience that was actually not particularly customer facing, other than the customer was seeing it on a digital video. And that was really incredible.

We learned a lot in that process about designing for the camera. We were essentially designing a stage, specifically for camera angles, and we had to create a lot of tricks to make the single stage look like multiple different sets. So, it was a lot of techniques with lighting and layering and things that we could take in and out of the set to give it a different appearance. And even changing the camera angle or rotating the camera angle made the set look like a totally different set.

 

Gabriella Bock:
That’s really cool. And I think awesome that you guys are helping, assisting creating these additional branded experiences for the virtual world, because so many brands, between their stores and their media and their e-commerce, a lot of it feels very disjointed. And we are seeing more people wanting to engage and interact with brands far past just making a transaction. For a lot of brands, it’s a lifestyle. I’m assuming Bala is very… It’s a lifestyle brand. It isn’t just about buying products. It’s about living and breathing the brand. So, that’s, I think, a really valuable service that you guys are providing, very cool stuff. I did want to ask, so, if there was any brand that you wish you could work with, or maybe a branded space that already exists that you wish you could just go in and redesign, what would it be? No pressure.

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Okay. So, I have a couple. I’m always keeping a list of my favorite brands that I’m discovering on Instagram. So, I could list a series of favorites, but I mean, maybe I’ll start with one, particularly exciting one that was a dream idea that we’re currently working on. We’re working with a new brand called Contact Sports, and I won’t say too much other than we are working with them to redesign the experience of shopping for sex toys, and that has been really fun, especially as we think about all of the stigmas around sex and shopping for sex toys and sort of exploring that intimacy with your partner or with your friends, or even by yourself.

So, I love that and I want to do that over and over again with more… really exploring these slightly taboo industries. And so that’s a really exciting one. And maybe there’s a series of other brands that we would love to work with. I’m very inspired by the color palette of My Ceremonia, which is a Latina hair care brand. And I’m also very interested in the way that soft services are changing the ideas around skincare for your body. So, there’s a couple there that I could name. But I’d say right now, a dream project that I’ve been thinking about a lot is… And I don’t really know a more elegant way to put this, but I’m quite interested in designing like a strip club, but from the women’s gaze.

 

Gabriella Bock:
Okay. Love it.

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Yeah. And it’s something that we’ve been talking about on our team, but we’ve also started some conversations around how powerful of a space that that could be, and just how much design could change that industry and celebrate it rather than it feeling something that is shameful. So, yeah, that actually would be my dream project right now.

 

Gabriella Bock:
Oh my gosh. Well, I wasn’t expecting that, but I think that’s super cool. And also, bringing it back to contact sports and just the more taboo industries, maybe a little bit, but that’s, I think something we’re seeing a lot with dispensaries, redesigning so it’s not… Yeah, it’s not so clinical to make them feel more welcoming and inviting so that people can shop for what they want to shop for with dignity and not feel icky or shame or bad about the very legal item or service that they’re purchasing.

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Yeah, totally. I just finished two locations for Modern Age, which is a longevity clinic that is really changing the way customers perceive and feel and think about the aging process, and that has been really fun, trying to redefine what the healthcare space looks and feels like, and also make sure that it’s something that you feel excited to go, an appointment that you feel excited about rather than… Often, the idea of aging can be very scary or something that we don’t talk about. But yeah, it’s projects like that where there’s a clear mission and a clear need for change, and it’s the right brand, the right client, their eyes and ears are open, and they’re ready to utilize design tools to kind of carve out a new space. Yeah, and so I think the idea of dispensaries and the idea of changing that industry is amazing. And there’s been some great retail experiences that have popped up over the last couple of years. I’ve been following them and kind of seeing what’s happening in that industry. But yeah, that would be another really fun project.

 

Gabriella Bock:
Absolutely. Well, Madelynn, it was great to learn more about you and your process for creating some of the world’s just truly most remarkable retail spaces. And if retailers, if anyone listening wanted to get in touch with you to learn more about what you do or how you can help them, how should they get in contact with you?

 

Madelynn Ringo:
I’d say one of the fastest ways right now is to DM me on Instagram, which my Instagram handle is just my name, Madelynn Ringo.

 

Gabriella Bock:
All right. Well, you heard it from her. Madelynn Ringo, I really appreciate your time today. It was wonderful chatting with you. And let’s stay in touch.

Gabriella Bock:
Hello, and welcome back to another episode of the Rethink Retail podcast. I’m your host, Gabriella Bock, and today, I’m speaking with my very special guest, Madelynn Ringo. Madelynn is a celebrated architectural designer and the founder of Ringo Studio, a Brooklyn based creative collective that’s behind some of the country’s best known store concepts, including Bala, Studs, Funny Face Bakery, and even the Museum of Ice Cream, which I bet if you haven’t visited, I’m sure you’ve had several friends who have and posted their pastel pictures to Instagram. Madelynn is also the head of Studio Design at Modern Age, which is a longevity clinic offering proactive care for how you look and feel. And prior to founding Ringo Studio, Madelynn served as the senior retail designer for Glossier, where she was an architectural designer and the creative lead on retail experiences for the brand in cities such as Miami, Boston, Austin, and Atlanta. Madelynn also holds a master’s degree in architecture from this little university called Yale. Madelynn, it’s so great to have you here. Thank you so much for joining the show today.

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Thank you for having me. Excited to chat with you today.

 

Gabriella Bock:
Absolutely. Well, I’m super excited to have you on because you have designed some incredible spaces. The work you’ve done with Glossier, the Museum of Ice Cream, the Studs, it’s just all remarkable work. And before we get there, I would kind of like to take it back a bit and learn a little bit more about you and what really drew you into this field. How did you get to where you are now, to designing these incredible retail spaces?

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Yeah, so I’ve always been a creative. I grew up in a very creative family surrounded by painting and arts of many different mediums, photography, jewelry making, and I’ve always really enjoyed in the participation of fashion and self-expression through those different creative versions of self-expression. And I’ve always been kind of blending some of these elements together. I’ve also had very much a interest in entrepreneurship and kind of building something new, whether that be using something in the creative field, like graphic skills and making a poster to launch an initiative in school or using my leadership skills to host an architecture conference in college. So, I’ve always been interested in blending a lot of those two together. And specifically in architecture and interior design, it’s a medium where you can bring inspiration from so many different industries and trends, theater and lighting design, and fashion even. And it’s an art form of storytelling. And I really love working with color and light and materiality and the potential of creating these spaces that transport somebody to a different world.

Yeah, and I think I went to architecture school at the University of Kentucky and had a lovely four years there and was exposed to some really incredible professors. And then I came to New York after that and began my first kind of professional experiences in architecture, and I worked for a small design office and did some really incredible museum work with them. And then I got my toes wet with working as an in-house designer for a brand. And some of those first professional experiences I think really formed a lot about the way I was thinking about the storytelling components of architecture and design. But also, that initial experience of being an in-house designer as part of a larger brand, it kind of gave me a glimpse at a very young age into what it means to communicate a brand, both through copy and messaging and marketing, but also through physical space.

 

Gabriella Bock:
Something that really just kind of stuck out to me what you were just sharing with us, Madelynn, is kind of describing the new way in which retailers are thinking about store design is as almost if it’s like a stage. You spoke about theater and lighting and play as if the shopper is a member of the audience. And so now it becomes that everything from the walls to the interiors to every interaction with a sales associate to the way the shelves are merchandise. It’s all become this very integral part of the story, which I think is definitely demonstrated in a lot of the stores and spaces that you’ve designed, Madelynn, and kind of a trend that we are seeing a lot of recently. And I definitely want to pick your brain more on trends in a little bit. But before we get there, I just want to know, I’m super curious to know what was the first store that you designed.

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Yeah, the first store I designed, it wasn’t really a store. It was a ping pong club in Los Angeles, and that goes back to when I was talking about one of my first professional experiences. When I moved to New York after college, I began working at the Standard Hotel as one of their in-house designers. And it was an incredible… I was there for a very short amount of time. I think it was just like maybe somewhere between five and six months. I was very much a young baby intern, and so my role was somewhat insignificant in this, but it was such a fun project. So, the Standard Hotel, if you know that brand, they are delightful across so many different scales of detail. And this particular project was to renovate their downtown Los Angeles Standard Hotel. We were removing all of the conference rooms from the space and turning it into a ping pong club that had this very kind of vintagey, loungey feeling to it. And it was also a partnership with Susan Sarandon’s company, Spin.

 

Gabriella Bock:
Oh, okay.

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Yeah, so it was a really fun… It had so many different… The project had so many different levels to it. It was partnering with Susan, and it was partnering with the hotel. It was inside of a hotel, and it was also a branded experience for the standard and it had this sense of movement and playfulness to it. So, that was a really fun first kind of professional design project. And I think the Standard Hotel, like I said, is just such an inspirational brand in that they carry their brand language across every single touchpoint. I was recently in their new hotel in Bangkok and I was just kind of overwhelmed with the cleverness of how perfect every detail, from the architecture to the way that the signs that you put on the back of your door read and to the way that they direct you to the elevator and the music in the elevator.

Every little moment of that customer experience is so thoughtful and designed, and it’s such an inspiration. So yeah, that was such a great kind of introduction to both brand design, but also something that had a customer, not quite retail, but a customer experience involved.

 

Gabriella Bock:
It’s an interesting project because you normally wouldn’t kind of couple the sophistication of the Standard Hotel with something like ping pong.

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Right, but that’s what they’re great at. They’re great at getting those opposing ideas and finding that perfectly clever way to surprise you.

 

Gabriella Bock:
I love it. And how many rounds of ping pong did you have to play to figure out the spatial dynamics of designing a room like that?

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Yeah, so I can’t say that I’m great at ping pong, but one of my roles within that process was, we covered the space in a lot of really incredible imagery of celebrities playing ping pong, which is kind of like… I don’t know, I guess there’s… For some reason, there’s photographs of all sorts of celebrities playing ping pong. So, part of my task was to find these images from music celebrities to fashion celebrities to even Barack Obama. And so I got to do a lot of research on that project, and it was really fun research, kind of finding these iconic images.

 

Gabriella Bock:
Yeah, wow. Well, what a super cool kind of first real professional experience to get your feet wet. And also, I didn’t know that Barack Obama was such in avid ping pong player, so very happy that I now possess that bit of trivia.

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Yes.

 

Gabriella Bock:
So, we talked about the store kind of being a stage. What are some of the other big trends that you think are really influencing experiential store design today? What are you seeing? What are clients asking for?

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Yeah, so I’m definitely seeing some shifts in a lot of the different client conversations that we’re having. Particularly, I think the pandemic drove a lot of this change, but when clients are coming to us now and they’re interested in creating a retail space, there’s always something a little bit more than just the transaction of selling a product that’s displayed on a shelf now. So, oftentimes, it’s coming with this other service component, whether that be with the example of Studs, shopping for jewelry, but also coming to the space to have an ear piercing experience. Or with Modern Age, it is a longevity clinic, so you’re coming there and you are talking with professionals, and you might be buying skincare products or supplements, but you’re also able to get services from clinicians. And so there’s this kind of service and retail component. And then in some lighter ways, there is also this idea of retail, but with a side of a coffee shop, or retail with a side of a juice store.

So, I’m noticing this kind of very intentional pairing of things, and I think that is all about building community and creating inclusivity within the brand and creating a more of a place where customers can hang out and spend time, and that starts to enable the brand to create more than just a transactional space, but a space that expresses their brand mission or creates a much more holistic environment for their customers. Also, even down to one of our projects that will be opening soon, we talked a lot about bringing in the component of a cooking class into the space. So, yeah, I think… Yeah, that’s the trend I’m seeing, is not only retailer, or maybe even that the retail component is getting much smaller in the footprint of the store and that this community space is getting much larger in the store.

 

Gabriella Bock:
Yeah, that’s a super good point. And really touching upon what you just shared with us, Madelynn, is that retailers are really focusing on creating stores that serve more than one purpose. So, they’re transactional spaces, but they’re also spaces that can serve as a communal space, a place that can really foster human connection, which is so important today. And I think retailers are really focusing on so much because we know that the experiences that people can form an emotional connection to are the experiences that are going to stick in people’s minds.

 

Madelynn Ringo:
And I’d even say another sort of example of that is with our recent collaboration with Bala, the store that we designed in Soho. They also hosted classes before and after opening hours and bringing their community back in for something that was, let’s use the Bala products, but in class, with often an influencer, someone who is really well known for their teaching style, but using those products in the context of an activity, which was really interesting in that. So, we designed that store with the idea in mind that, at some point, the retail elements had to disappear so that we could make way for yoga mats.

 

Gabriella Bock:
And so thinking about having to design a space that can, one, house an entire yoga class, but at the same time, you still have to sell products, what kind of challenges does that present to you then as a designer? And how do you go about finding the right balance between those two different elements?

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Yeah, so it definitely creates a more complex problem because you’re adding multiple layers of operations into the floor plan. You’re adding the retail operations and the storage and the need for merchandising and storytelling, but then you’re also adding in the complexities of events and gatherings of 20 to 50 people. And I think it forces us to think about how the design is both great as a backdrop for the merchandise, but also how the design is a backdrop for other types of content. How does the space look, both at the smaller scale if somebody is taking a photo of the merchandise, but also maybe someone is shooting TikTok content or is shooting brand content or the video of a class or of a discussion or of a fireside chat that’s happening in the space? So, yeah, we have to think a little bit about how the store and the objects that we’re designing in the store can both feel permanent and fixed, so that when a customer is there for the retail experience, it doesn’t feel secondary or it doesn’t feel temporal.

But then when they come back for the other activity, it also needs to look and feel like the space was designed for that experience as well. So, thinking a lot about, yeah, kind of also even some of the very basic complexities of how heavy is it. How heavy are these objects, and how can we easily move them around the space and transform the space from specifically an operational standpoint?

 

Gabriella Bock:
Yeah. Well, and this is something I’ve at least personally experienced, but I’ve definitely been in stores where just the sheer amount of products that there are in this store can be kind of overwhelming and it makes shopping a little more challenging. And I think this is something that we’re seeing retailers kind of incorporate in their stores, which is this notion that less is more from a merchandising standpoint, but are there also design laws that support this notion as well?

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Yeah, I think there’s kind of two scenarios I’m thinking about. One where the brand is just showcasing their own products, but there’s also a lot of stores that are doing multi-brand retail. And so not only are you thinking about the simplicity of the product and the storytelling, but sometimes you might even be thinking about two different brands showing up right next to each other and how that looks and feels, and how the backdrop can support a multi-brand experience, almost like the backdrop or the shelving system has to become the constant across all of the different products that may look very different from each other and may sort be visually cluttering. But I’d say in terms of design rules, yeah, I mean, we love when things are more curated and when we have the ability to do more specific storytelling. I think it also makes customers feel more relaxed while they’re shopping, and also creates a more elevated experience rather than putting so many things out on the shelves that doesn’t allow for any curiosity or any sort of wanting of more.

So, there’s definitely some great curatorial tricks just visually. And then if you are in a situation where you do need multiple brands displayed at once, I often fall back on creating a sense of grid and spacing so that the clutter feels organized or the multiple products feel structured and easy to navigate.

 

Gabriella Bock:
Yeah, that’s a good point. You mentioned grid, and I wanted to ask about how much do you think social media has impacted some of the design trends that we’re seeing right now?

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Yeah. So, definitely a lot of the spaces that I have designed over the last three to five years very much have had social media at the forefront of our discussions with the brands, with the teams, with my designers, because often we’re thinking about how customers come into the space and how they photograph the space, also how they might photograph themselves in the space. So, it certainly has influenced a lot of our work, a lot of our conversations, everything from how lighting in retail became, lighting, especially in the beauty industry, became really critical, making sure that someone’s face looked amazing in the mirror had no shadows, so that when they were taking those photos, they looked incredible. Also, I think certain colors show up better on social media, or certain tonalities of colors can kind of pop better. So, a lot of that comes… A lot of the thinking through social media comes into a lot of our design choices and design process.

This is kind of a smaller thing, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot. From grid to TikTok or grid to reels, there is now a lot more video being taken in the spaces that we design. And it’s been interesting to start to see those videos and how influencers or how customers are capturing the space while they’re moving, which is very different than the much more curated static selfie moment that we were able to design and almost give someone very clear instructions as to what to capture. But now with the increase of video in social media, it’s definitely switching again a little bit, and I’m noticing things even down to the way that lighting responds and video is different than on still images because, especially with LEDs, they can flicker in video. And you never notice that when you’re in a store, but-

 

Gabriella Bock:
When you’re editing the video, oh my gosh.

 

Madelynn Ringo:
So, that’s been something actually that’s been at the forefront of my thoughts right now, is just, yeah, kind of thinking even more detailed around how does our LED… What are the qualities of the LEDs that we’re using in our lighting design? And how do we make sure that the video being captured has some of these considerations from the design perspective? Yeah, thinking about that, so definitely thinking about video, but I’ve also, in a couple of recent client conversations… There’s so much saturation with content out in the world. On Instagram and TikTok and all of these different platforms, there’s just so much content and so much expectation now that retail stores are going to give you a selfie moment or a selfie room or something, something for your grid. And I’ve also noticed the beginning of a shift in current discussions with clients that kind of want to pull away from so literally offering that. They are starting to be more interested in keeping it a little bit more private or mysterious and less in your face and a little bit more subtle branding and not something that is going to be so stereotypical Instagrammable.

So, I’m also noticing a little shift in that, maybe a pivot away a little bit.

 

Gabriella Bock:
Interesting. That’s interesting… Because I know the millennial crowd were the ones seeking the very Instagrammable moments, very popular from 2015 onwards, maybe a little sooner than that. But I wonder if you have… What’s your take in that kind of shift away, maybe it just being not as novel anymore or-

 

Madelynn Ringo:
That’s exactly the right word. I think… Yeah, I mean, just giving a little bit more privacy to the experience or the idea that maybe there’s a little bit more sense of fun and curiosity if it’s not all over the internet and that maybe you find out word of mouth and it becomes a little bit more of a secret gem, that you know have to be doing your research and know the right people to realize that it’s there or find it or discover it. Yeah. So, I think… Yeah, I think there’s just a little bit… And I believe that’s coming a lot from just the oversaturation that we’re seeing. And it’s hard, it’s really hard right now to create a unique version of a selfie moment in a retail store because it’s happening at such an crazy fast scale on all sections of the world.

And I’m definitely a little bit curious about, this sort of shifts away from Instagram a little bit, but how design will start to translate again as it goes into the metaverse, which I have not explored, and I’m a little bit scared of it. But at the same time, I’m very intrigued, especially because of the opportunity that architecture has to influence that world. So, yeah, I’m intrigued. I’m scared I haven’t gotten anywhere near it yet, but-

 

Gabriella Bock:
It sounds like most of us here in the retail industry, intrigued, a little terrified, and very confused about what it even is, but definitely… The opportunities to create art and these very creative branded spaces, I think are pretty endless because you can do anything you want. You’re not withhold to the laws of gravity or physics or anything like that.

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Yeah.

 

Gabriella Bock:
So, I did want to ask you, because you mentioned Instagrammable moments, and a little bit of a shift away from that, but I have noticed that a lot of the spaces that you’ve designed, particularly the Glossier and the Museum of Ice Cream, they’re very kind of color forward and some of them gravitate toward a pastel hue and there’s this very innate softness and roundedness in some of the structural elements that all kind of come together in this very dreamlike essence. And those are my observations as a non-designer, so you could tell me if I’m totally off base there, but I did want to know if those designs were representative of your own personal aesthetic or more of that was what the brand wanted based off of their products or their experience?

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Yeah, definitely. I think those observations were on point. So, yeah. I see space as from a sculptural stance, and I’ve always believed in taking design risks and moving away from expectation when it comes to infusing texture and form and materials and color into the environment. So, we’re very playful when we design. There’s always a fun material that we discover and we’re dying to find the right project to slip it into. So, I’d say a lot of the brands that we work with, even though they’re quite different from Museum of Ice Cream to Studs to Modern Age to Glossier to our place, they very much have their own brand world and their own brand aesthetic. And I think our approach to that design is we find their world and we blend it with a little bit of our own. And so if you look across all the projects, it’s definitely intentional that you see a little bit of an artistic thread through them, and that’s coming from the textures that you’ll see and the bright colors, and definitely the curves.

And I think certainly sculpting the space a little bit more than a typical retail store. We definitely… We’re doing a lot of interior design, but my team is all rooted in architectural education, and so we’re always thinking really about how to sculpt the space and definitely provide that artistic and design expertise back to the brands. But I’d also say that a lot of the brands and the clients that come to us, they’re coming to us because they already have a sense of playfulness and they already have a sense of wanting to take a risk and do something different and disrupt an industry, and that’s often why they come to our design studio, to work on that level with us.

 

Gabriella Bock:
And so when they do come to you, how do you begin that design process with them?

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Yeah, so first and foremost, we need to understand their brand, understand how they came to be. We often get to work directly with the founders and the CEOs, and some of our initial conversations are really about listening to them and hearing their background, not necessarily as it relates to design, but as it relates to their brand mission and how they discovered this opportunity. And then we’re really looking at the customer journey and we’re approaching it from a spatial and sculptural viewpoint and figuring out how to give that brand experience that’s going to live and breathe within every touchpoint of the retail store, or it’s not necessarily only retail, but every touchpoint within that interior experience. For an example, just recently we started working on a new project, which is a showroom. And this is quite interesting because it’s not a typology that we’ve worked on before.

And so one of my favorite things about architecture is you get to learn about so many different industries. If you’re designing a medical clinic, you have to know everything about the operations, the clinical operations, and even the needs of the doctors and the needs of the customers from a health perspective, and even sort of sanitary perspective. But then if we’re designing a showroom, we also have to put ourselves in those customers shoes and understand why are people coming to that space and who is the profile of the person coming to that place. And particularly, a showroom is interesting for us. Something within our initial conversations with the client is that they wanted their showroom to feel a little bit more like some of the leading retail experiences of today, somewhere where people could feel like it was a destination and that they were really excited to be there, both designers, because that’s often the profile of the person going to the showroom… And by showroom, I’m talking specifically like a materials showroom, so wood flooring, wallpaper, stone, things like that.

 

Gabriella Bock:
So, they’re kind of mimicking home interior designs in a way?

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Yeah.

 

Gabriella Bock:
Okay.

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Yeah, definitely. And so one of our first steps in that process, because it was a slightly adjacent typology than what we’re typically working on, we go and investigate on the ground. So, we went to every single material showroom that we could pack into a single day in New York, and we walked around and looked at them all and played the role of the customer and played the role of the designer and took note on all of our experience, what we liked and what we didn’t like, and really put our research mode on and got in there and explored. Yeah, I think that’s one of my favorite parts of starting a new project and beginning to work with a new brand, is really just getting familiar with their products. If we’re designing for a cookware company, we need to see the pots and pans, and maybe we need to go look at other cookware companies that maybe are an old model of retail and understand what they’re doing that doesn’t resonate with us anymore.

 

Gabriella Bock:
And so when they come to you, do they come with a very specific vision in mind, or are you kind of crafting that vision for them? Or is it kind of vary from client to client?

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Yeah, I mean, I’d say that usually they don’t come with a architectural vision in mind. They often can talk very clearly and specifically about the customer experience, what they want the customer to feel, and what they want them to… what sort of messages and ideas they want them to leave the space with. But no, I think our clients are often creatives and they’re visionary people because they’ve built a company and they’re surrounded by creative directors and brand designers and people that have expertise in marketing. So, they definitely are creatives, but they’re creative skill sets really compliments ours. And I think they do give us the freedom and the opportunity to both see their brand through a different lens and sort present it back to them through the lens of architecture and material, but then they really add to the conversation. Even if they can’t necessarily speak architecture or speak the technical language of design and detailing, they give us incredible feedback and help us make sure that each step of the way, we’re constantly filtering it back through their brand mission and that sort of shining star.

So yeah, we have a lot of freedom, but it’s also a very collaborative process, and I think that’s one of the really exciting parts about this particular niche within the design industry that we’re operating in. And we get to work with some of the coolest brands and companies out there that are building really incredible things. So, we learn just as much from them about marketing strategies and creative direction and brand campaigns, and we get to learn the inner workings of their business, which is really cool.

 

Gabriella Bock:
Yeah, and I mean, how fun to be able to work together on that and then share in the experience at the end where you get to bask in the physicality of what you’ve done or seeing everything come to life.

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Yeah, and I think we often work with brands on a series of projects, and sometimes that’s a series of retail stores, so we’re working with them not only to design a single space, but how do we then take that idea and create a kit of parts that then can be scaled all across many different cities? So, that’s one way that we’ve developed relationships with clients. In other cases… For example, in the case of Bala, we worked with them across a few different design projects, one being the retail store, which we mentioned transitions into this kind of fitness class space. But then we also worked with them to create a set for an app that they launched, Bala Size, where they are filming content, their own branded content, filming fitness classes, and then offering those classes back to their customers. So, that was great because we did the store on a certain design process, and then we also created this physical experience that was actually not particularly customer facing, other than the customer was seeing it on a digital video. And that was really incredible.

We learned a lot in that process about designing for the camera. We were essentially designing a stage, specifically for camera angles, and we had to create a lot of tricks to make the single stage look like multiple different sets. So, it was a lot of techniques with lighting and layering and things that we could take in and out of the set to give it a different appearance. And even changing the camera angle or rotating the camera angle made the set look like a totally different set.

 

Gabriella Bock:
That’s really cool. And I think awesome that you guys are helping, assisting creating these additional branded experiences for the virtual world, because so many brands, between their stores and their media and their e-commerce, a lot of it feels very disjointed. And we are seeing more people wanting to engage and interact with brands far past just making a transaction. For a lot of brands, it’s a lifestyle. I’m assuming Bala is very… It’s a lifestyle brand. It isn’t just about buying products. It’s about living and breathing the brand. So, that’s, I think, a really valuable service that you guys are providing, very cool stuff. I did want to ask, so, if there was any brand that you wish you could work with, or maybe a branded space that already exists that you wish you could just go in and redesign, what would it be? No pressure.

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Okay. So, I have a couple. I’m always keeping a list of my favorite brands that I’m discovering on Instagram. So, I could list a series of favorites, but I mean, maybe I’ll start with one, particularly exciting one that was a dream idea that we’re currently working on. We’re working with a new brand called Contact Sports, and I won’t say too much other than we are working with them to redesign the experience of shopping for sex toys, and that has been really fun, especially as we think about all of the stigmas around sex and shopping for sex toys and sort of exploring that intimacy with your partner or with your friends, or even by yourself.

So, I love that and I want to do that over and over again with more… really exploring these slightly taboo industries. And so that’s a really exciting one. And maybe there’s a series of other brands that we would love to work with. I’m very inspired by the color palette of My Ceremonia, which is a Latina hair care brand. And I’m also very interested in the way that soft services are changing the ideas around skincare for your body. So, there’s a couple there that I could name. But I’d say right now, a dream project that I’ve been thinking about a lot is… And I don’t really know a more elegant way to put this, but I’m quite interested in designing like a strip club, but from the women’s gaze.

 

Gabriella Bock:
Okay. Love it.

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Yeah. And it’s something that we’ve been talking about on our team, but we’ve also started some conversations around how powerful of a space that that could be, and just how much design could change that industry and celebrate it rather than it feeling something that is shameful. So, yeah, that actually would be my dream project right now.

 

Gabriella Bock:
Oh my gosh. Well, I wasn’t expecting that, but I think that’s super cool. And also, bringing it back to contact sports and just the more taboo industries, maybe a little bit, but that’s, I think something we’re seeing a lot with dispensaries, redesigning so it’s not… Yeah, it’s not so clinical to make them feel more welcoming and inviting so that people can shop for what they want to shop for with dignity and not feel icky or shame or bad about the very legal item or service that they’re purchasing.

 

Madelynn Ringo:
Yeah, totally. I just finished two locations for Modern Age, which is a longevity clinic that is really changing the way customers perceive and feel and think about the aging process, and that has been really fun, trying to redefine what the healthcare space looks and feels like, and also make sure that it’s something that you feel excited to go, an appointment that you feel excited about rather than… Often, the idea of aging can be very scary or something that we don’t talk about. But yeah, it’s projects like that where there’s a clear mission and a clear need for change, and it’s the right brand, the right client, their eyes and ears are open, and they’re ready to utilize design tools to kind of carve out a new space. Yeah, and so I think the idea of dispensaries and the idea of changing that industry is amazing. And there’s been some great retail experiences that have popped up over the last couple of years. I’ve been following them and kind of seeing what’s happening in that industry. But yeah, that would be another really fun project.

 

Gabriella Bock:
Absolutely. Well, Madelynn, it was great to learn more about you and your process for creating some of the world’s just truly most remarkable retail spaces. And if retailers, if anyone listening wanted to get in touch with you to learn more about what you do or how you can help them, how should they get in contact with you?

 

Madelynn Ringo:
I’d say one of the fastest ways right now is to DM me on Instagram, which my Instagram handle is just my name, Madelynn Ringo.

 

Gabriella Bock:
All right. Well, you heard it from her. Madelynn Ringo, I really appreciate your time today. It was wonderful chatting with you. And let’s stay in touch.