• !

Placemaking Project

Retail ⁄ Interpretive ⁄ Food Service Environments

Photos courtesy of Maltbie

Heartwood: Southwest Virginia's Artisan Gateway

Abingdon, Virginia

Heartwood is a $16 million, 30,000 SF tourist destination originated by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Heartwood was devised to boost the “creative economy” emerging in the nineteen‐county region of Southwest Virginia and encourage it to supplement the manufacturing, industrial, tobacco and coal‐based industries of the past with a new, sustainable economy that capitalizes on the unique cultural heritage of the region. A remarkably original tourist attraction, Heartwood showcases the talents of the region's diverse community of artisans and musicians while enticing visitors to explore and support Southwest Virginia's wealth of cultural, natural, and commercial attractions. Part of the Heartwood experience will be the chance to experience the best in local foods and beverages. Visitors can enjoy Southwest Virginia traditions in home cooking for lunch or dinner in the restaurant or relax in the coffee & wine bar while enjoying a cup of locally roasted coffee or a glass of regionally produced wine. Visible from Interstate 81, Heartwood opened in the summer of 2011. It is expected to attract more than 270,000 visitors, create twenty‐four direct jobs, generate $2.2 million in revenue, and result in a total economic impact in excess of $28 million for the region. For more information, visit www.heartwoodvirginia.org.

Heartwood's complementary programs — regional visitor center, artisan retail gallery, music venue and dining establishment — presented the perfect opportunity for 1717 to create a immersive shopping experience. By integrating all of the programs into a single experience rather than isolating them, visitors have the opportunity to make personal connections with the featured artisans and musicians, the crafts they practice, and the region they call home. Interpretive displays are situated side‐by‐side with the retail displays. Hand‐made objects are displayed on innovative museum‐quality retail fixtures crafted from the beautiful hardwood species native to the Appalachian region. Monumental graphic displays, web links, interactive computer stations, and video presentations are strategically located in each gallery offering visitors the opportunity to learn firsthand about the individuals whose work is on display. The open architecture of the floor plan also allows the music and dining venues to be integrated into the experience. Visitors are encouraged to pause and enjoy the music, a meal, a cup of coffee, or a glass of wine without leaving the atmosphere of the galleries.

1717 was commissioned to extend the emerging brand they created for the interpretive and retail programs by applying it to the food service environments. For the coffee & wine bar, 1717 designed a distinct cherry and maple counter configuration featuring backlit‐acrylic fronts, copper‐clad counter tops and chalkboard menu boards. Web browsing and trip planning computer stations were located adjacent to the seating area to encourage visitors to relax and explore Southwest Virginia's wealth of cultural, natural, and commercial attractions. 1717 also assisted in the selection of tables and seating and designed custom artwork for the plastic laminate table tops in the restaurant ⁄ cafe serving area.

Also see the Heartwood graphic identity by 1717.