A Modular Approach to Design Thinking

When ICA Supermarket Medborgarplatsen, one of the largest and most profitable grocery stores in Stockholm, embarked on a complete renovation, they sought a fresh, stylish, and versatile graphic identity. Drawing inspiration from a building that had been deemed Stockholm’s ugliest might seem unconventional. However, since we wanted the new design to strongly connect with the local area, we decided to concentrate on the building that housing this great store.

Challenge – Fierce Competition

Situated in the heart of Södermalm, ICA Medborgarplatsen occupies a location both enviable and challenging. On the positive side, it enjoys a constant flow of foot traffic with millions of people passing by. On the downside, the competition is intense. Within a mere 150 meters, there are hundreds of dining options and several grocery stores. Additionally, digital providers like Foodora and Wolt, as well as companies like Linas Matkasse, further contribute to the fierce competition. In summary, with such intense competition, the challenge for ICA Medborgarplatsen lies in carving out its distinct place in the marketplace.

Approach

The initial strategic phase involved mapping out key competitors and comprehending the needs of distinct target groups to personalize our approach. We conducted interviews and performed market research on other stores and restaurants. Utilizing this data, we deliberated the development of diverse offerings in the new store, ensuring they align with the desires and requirements of the newly defined target group personas. Following the analysis, we initiated the strategic process by defining the store’s position, persona, and brand values, considering not only the present circumstances but also anticipating future growth.

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The Medis Programme

Architect Bengt Lindroos calls “Vägaren 23” his “problem child,” but its importance goes beyond just how it looks. Built during the later stages of the Million Program, its streamlined design inspired a solution like assembling LEGO pieces – making it flexible and adaptable.

To enhance our connection with the local context, we opted to rename the store to ICA Medis (Medis being the local moniker for Medborgarplatsen), aligning with its familiar designation among the locals.

The million Programme

Efficient construction of numerous, preferably sizable residences necessitates rationalization. Ready-made concrete elements, similar to building blocks like Legos, are essential manufactured in factories and then assembled in various configurations.

 

By the late 1960s, sixteen distinct structural element systems existed for housing. Today, in the era of abundant choices, only four are employed in constructing new residences. Consequently, the range of possibilities for variation today is significantly narrower than it was in 1967.

Medis Modular

At the core of the new graphic identity lies a specially crafted modular typeface. Drawing inspiration from the modular system of the Million Programme, this typeface was conceived within a grid framework, offering limitless potential for variation. Each letter functions as a modular element seamlessly fitting together with others. The typeface was developed in collaboration with Göran Söderström at Letters of Sweden.

The graphic modular system enables the seamless integration of the typeface with images within the same grid, forming a dynamic word-image composition. To enhance value, images of food are combined with historical pictures from the area. Through this system, both typeface and images can prominently feature on larger surfaces, effectively conveying the message of ICA Medis.


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