In the three short years since founding her eponymous studio, Brooklyn-based designer Madelynn Ringo has carved out a niche for playful, immersive and vividly colourful retail spaces. A young entrepreneur herself, Ringo caters to start-ups, from those with established e-commerce to emerging brands yet to settle on a logo. “The best pairing is when we have a client that’s disrupting their industry,” she explains. “They’re ready to take risks and see the value of investing in design.”
Her holistic approach — which spans from interiors to creative strategy — begins with understanding the client’s mission and message. Ringo imagines this brand story as a sequence of scenes that drives the customer experience, considering not only material elements like light, texture and colour but also sound and the pace at which people move through the vignettes. While her clients often provide a style guide and product samples, according to Ringo, “the magic happens when we depart from what they’ve already made and introduce a second layer that allows their brand to grow into another dimension.” The architectural language she develops often goes on to inform marketing and campaigns.
Ringo never expected to specialize in retail, but was always drawn to public spaces. Though she began on a traditional trajectory at an architectural office, trying everything from exhibition design to high-end residential, she cut her teeth as an in-house designer at the Standard Hotel, where she first experienced working alongside a brand team.
It wasn’t until she landed at Glossier — where she opened four pop-ups in one year — that Ringo had her light-bulb moment. “It became
this fast-paced exercise in making sure I really understood the brand but also could flex that aesthetic into something that felt localized to
each city,” she explains. It was there that she mastered the art of designing photogenic spaces — and the cosmetics brand’s cult following lined up for hours for the promise of the perfect Instagram post. “It was clear when someone came in what photograph they should take, even if they didn’t have a design background,” she says. “It was interesting to watch the customer become so involved in the architectural story.”
Indeed, social media has shaped the way she thinks about creating space. When Ringo started in retail, it was all about the selfie moment. With the rise of TikTok, she has evolved to optimize interiors for video while also considering how brands might use the space to create their own content. This hyper-focus on the customer journey has become Ringo Studio’s calling card. “There’s an expectation from consumers that the retail space be incredibly immersive and authentic. Of course, we’re designing for products to be on the wall — but the transactional element becomes secondary to that experience,” she explains.
As for the future, construction is currently ramping up on Ringo Studio’s first international project: a new showroom in Toronto for luxury wood flooring manufacturer Relative Space. The B2B environment is new to Ringo, but seeking to attract the next generation of millennial and Gen Z designers, the brand approached her for an unexpected and immersive space. “People expect incredible experiences wherever they’re going: a museum, a retail store, a restaurant, a hotel or a wood flooring showroom,” she says. “Come to me with a prompt and a story for any type of space and we would treat it the same way.”
Ringo Studio is on a mission to pack retail spaces with sensory delight.