Experiential retail – a new way to shop

 

Is daily life  an extension the digital world  or the other way around for you? I believe your attitude and your answer is likely to have  an impact on your happiness, as h behavior follows attitude and habit!

With the rise of e-commerce and demise of physical brick-and-mortar retail, consumers are continually hungry for experiences that engage and excite them. Experiential retail at its core looks at creating and tailoring experience through a unique journey of touchpoints available exclusively to the space, consequentially leaving the consumer entertained, inspired and resonating with the brand or merchant and resulting in sales.
Jordan Major

Jordan Major

Luxury retailers such as Harrods and Bergdorfs have been achieving this for decades with their precision orientated service for discerning clientele who expect a tailored experience to match their spend.

In the early days of Steve Jobs’ return to Apple, he took the concept of purchasing a computer to an entirely new territory through the brand’s retail stores, which have almost become tourist attractions in their own right for the experiences they offer consumers. Angela Ahrendts, former CEO of Burberry and currently Apple’s SVP of Retail, sees the grander vision of the brand’s retail approach as that of “town squares” for each of their locations – serving the communities they operate within by offering educational and creative presentations and becoming a place of congregation.

This signals more modern market climates that we find ourselves in, where consumers are more hungry for experiences than a variety and surplus of goods – where authenticity and stories can be created and shared.

Emotive retail spaces

Technology has given mass retailers the opportunity to engage with consumers in real time and offer this personal approach, whilst leveraging off of data captured in these engagements to communicate with the customer through channels both in and out of store. Whilst technology remains important to bring experiential elements to life, the service design and strategy of these spaces must be driven by customer and market insights that give the spaces strong emotive purpose.

This is exemplified through an activation by Europe’s favourite furniture brand, Ikea, who brought their Dining Room pop-up space to life driven by the insight of ‘bringing people together through food’. Operating in the trendy Shoreditch area of London for two weeks, the space featured a DIY restaurant that allowed guests to cook and learn alongside on-site chefs, a corresponding café, showrooms for kitchenware and homeware and finally cooking workshops.

In line with their customers thirst for great wine British supermarket retailer Waitrose has found great success in offering in-store wine bars in seven of their more prestigious locations, as well as a paired menu from their bakery and delicatessen.

The flow and design of such spaces and experiences remain paramount, exemplified by the likes of new luxury thinkers such as Off-White and Alexander Wang – both of whose New York outlets place strong emphasis on the curation of their garments as well as the overall atmosphere – the latter using a section of the store as an exhibition space for exclusive product and artwork.

Local leaders

The question remains for South Africa is when will we see the rise of such a concept? Cape Town-based retailer meets restaurant Loading Bay has been achieving this model for years with its selection of premium clothing, books and magazines and a corresponding restaurant with amazing reviews.

Loading Bay

Loading Bay

Home to the world’s best cappuccino is Truth Coffee whose prime steampunk space on De Waterkant Street is an experience to witness in itself. Even the likes of Corner Store, a multi-brand streetwear space, is elevating the concept and expectations of local streetwear through acting as a multi-functional canvas for fashion, art and music.

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We’re Only Beginning to Understand How Our Brains Make Maps

All our instincts as “place” designers are well founded  it seems –  all of the fine details, ambiences and local differences we cherish are really important to how we navigate space and understand where we are and wether it is safe, dangerous or cool to be here – the latest neuroscience, albeit with rats,  is giving us new ammo in a our tangle with both virtual and the banal retail worlds. By Emily Badger at Atlantic Cities

The more scientists learn about how our brains construct cognitive maps of space, the more we may learn about how to design those spaces.

About 40 years ago, researchers first began to suspect that we have neurons in our brains called “place cells.” They’re responsible for helping us (rats and humans alike) find our way in the world, navigating the environment with some internal sense of where we are, how far we’ve come, and how to find our way back home. All of this sounds like the work of maps. But our brains do impressively sophisticated mapping work, too, and in ways we never actively notice.

Every time you walk out your front door and past the mailbox, for instance, a neuron in your hippocampus fires as you move through that exact location – next to the mailbox – with a real-world precision down to as little as 30 centimeters. When you come home from work and pass the same spot at night, the neuron fires again, just as it will the next morning. “Each neuron cares for one place,” saysMayank Mehta, a neurophysicist at UCLA. “And it doesn’t care for any other place in the world.”

This is why these neurons are called “place cells.” And, in constantly shuffling patterns, they generate our cognitive maps of the world. Exactly how they do this, though, has remained a bit of an enigma. The latest research from Mehta and his colleagues, published this month in the online edition of the journal Science, provides more clues. It now appears as if all of the sensory cues around us – the smell of a pizzeria, the feel of a sidewalk, the sound of a passing bus – are much more integral to how our brains map our movement through space than scientists previously believed.

And the more scientists learn about how our brains construct cognitive maps of space, the more we may learn about how to design those spaces – streets, neighborhoods, cities – in the first place. Or, rather, we may learn more about the consequences of how we’ve built them so far. How could any urban planner, for starters, not love the idea that “place” is embedded in the brain?

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Design Research: A Methodology for Creating User Identified Services

 Tricia Wang’s explanation of what Design Research might be about intersects and why it matters with my current thinking on how the need for direct involvement with actual people who are affected and need a help with articulating their needs to designers, planners and authorities and to take part in how to evolve this experiential knowledge and process. A type of Ethnomethodology is evolving. First  seen on  Scoop.it! actions de concertation citoyenne 

For a long time, I’ve wanted to understand how ethnographically driven research is different from market research.  While I intuitively understood the differences between the two, I didn’t take the time to fully sort it out.

I finally found someone who not only clearly explains the differences, but provides greater clarity and depth to my understanding of design research.

I love the way Panthea Lee of reBoot  contrasts market research and design research in, Design Research: What Is It and Why Do It? Panthea explains that the primary difference is that market research treats people as consumers – wage earners with an income to dispose on a product or service, while design research treats people as users  – humans who are trying to fulfill everyday needs through what means they see as possible.

“Market research identifies and acts upon optimal market and consumer leverage points to achieve success. Its definition of success is not absolute, though metrics are often financial. Design research, on the other hand, is founded in the belief that we already know the optimal market and consumer leverage points: human needs. Unearthing and satisfying those needs is thus the surest measure of success. Through this process, we earn people’s respect and loyalty.”

Panthea’s essay doesn’t put a value judgement on market research, rather it makes the boundaries between both types of research more explicit. This clarity allows researchers the space to be explicit about when they are wearing the market research or the design research hat. Sometimes a project needs to be considered from a market and a design perspective. So this is when this chart below becomes super useful!

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Designing for Adaptable Futures (DAF) Winners Announced

While we are struggling o come to grips with the changes wrought by the older generation of which i am one, we are often exited to see the work of the future designers of the world and how we might look afresh at our problems from bustler

The Adaptable Futures (AF) group at Loughborough University in England today announced the winners of its first international student competition, Designing for Adaptable Futures (DAF). The competition asked students to illustrate how the life of their proposal – whether product, building or urban intervention – would unfold through time: over an hour, day, year, decade, or perhaps a century.

The international jury of architects included Charles Holland, Director (FAT Architecture); Daisy Froud, Director (AOC); Megumi Matsubara, Founder (Assistant, Japan); Søren Nielson, Director (Vankunsten Architects, Denmark); David Rowley, Director (Nightingale Associates); and Paul Warner, Director (3D Reid Architects).

Joint First Prize: Factory Home by Johnny Killok from AdaptableFutures on Vimeo.

Top submissions were shortlisted, from which the judges selected three winning submissions (a joint first place and a third place) along with five submissions deserving honorable mention. Overall the competition received over 150 submissions from 26 countries around the world.

VIEW THIS COMPETITION BRIEF:

Joint First Prize: Factory Home by Johnny Killok: Still from the Factory Home film: work mode

Joint First Prize: Factory Home by Johnny Killok: Still from the Factory Home film: work mode

Joint First Prize: Factory Home
by Johnny Killok (University of Westminster, UK)

Factory Home focuses on reshaping the live/work spatial relationship as part of a ‘third industrial revolution’. The proposal organizes the building as three distinct zones – living, working and transition which are blurred through the use of flexible modules sliding in and out of the transition zone as needed throughout the day. – boards (PDF)

Joint First Prize: Village Green
by Jeffrey Adjei (University for the Creative Arts Canterbury, UK)

Village Green (for the people by the people) in New Addington proposes several ideas about how to construct transient social structures for a high quality public space which evolve with community needs. The proposal embraces Walter Segal’s concept of self-build and looks extensively at the collaborative process, linking the community with a vast network of charity and government organizations through a continual building process. –boards (PDF)

Joint First Prize: Village Green by Jeffrey Adjei: Village Green's public space

Joint First Prize: Village Green by Jeffrey Adjei: Village Green’s public space

Third Prize: Adaptable Street 
by Maxime Rousseau and Paul Jaquet (Université de Montréal, Canada)

Adaptable Street focuses on exploiting (and expanding) the capacity in our major cities to create and adapt spaces at and around street level, creating ‘thick streets’ for a vibrant mix of uses. The proposal explores how the uses and spaces would transform linearly, seasonally and over time. – boards (PDF)

Third Prize: Adaptable Street by Maxime Rousseau and Paul Jaquet: Sections through street

Click above image to view slideshow
Third Prize: Adaptable Street by Maxime Rousseau and Paul Jaquet: Sections through street

Regarding the winning submissions, Daisy Froud of AOC stated; “I’m really glad that the two joint winners reflect two very different approaches, one more traditionally architectural – it’s a big building with bits that slide, but that is nonetheless rooted in thinking about how people in central London live and work – and one that has more in common with social sculpture, its speculations based on research into a specific cultural and perhaps even ‘small-p political’ context.”

Jury members were inspired by the quality of the visual and narrative ideas presented. David Rowley of Nightingale Associates commented: “I was impressed by the time and effort many of the students put into the submissions, and how effectively they showcased their ideas using both presentation boards and film.  The best submissions fully embraced adaptability with sustainability in its broadest sense, taking into account social and political factors as well as accounting for the visual environment and longevity.”

The integration of time in their design proposal was framed around three criteria presented in the brief: strategies for change (AF frame cycle), building layers and design guidelines (spatial, material and mind set).

Students were allowed to submit two A0 boards and/or a three minute film. The three competition winners will share a £3,500 (US$5,433) cash prize and have been invited to participate and present at this autumn’s AF event in London.

The jury also awarded Honorable Mentions to following five projects:

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Q&A: Finn Butler on wayfinding design

Investing in evidence based design is far from common –  retail business’ mantra that “the customer is always right” is not yet firmly entrenched in the design professions way of thinking – yet – but I am sure its coming – here is an interview with a firm that believes firmly in following the evidence to promote ease of way-finding in notoriously difficult to negotiate environments – from smart planet By 

MELBOURNE – At SmartPlanet, we’ve written about wayfinding from all different angles; as environmental graphic design, operating system, cognitive map and even as an iPhone app. But as a professional practice, it’s still relatively unknown and arguably undervalued.

Pioneering wayfinding as a new discipline is Finn Butler, a specialist with over 20 years of international experience in designing for complex built environments.

Since joining the Melbourne design studio Buro North in 2008, Butler has executed strategies for some of Australia’s most public projects including the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, Melbourne Convention Exhibition Centre and Westfield in Sydney.

Butler’s early career focused on transport wayfinding systems for Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport, Delhi Metro in India, and the U.K.’s major rail stations.

We recently caught up with Finn Butler to discuss wayfinding semantics — what it is, why it’s important and where it’s headed as an industry.

Wayfinding expert Finn Butler

SmartPlanet: Where did the term ‘wayfinding’ come from?

Finn Butler: I think Kevin Lynch first used the phrase wayfinding in his book Image of the City to describe the process of designing and organising space to facilitate navigation, so in its modern sense the term has been around for about 50 years. As a design discipline, wayfinding is still in its infancy and is still evolving.

SP: Is there an agreed definition?

FB: Many practitioners describe wayfinding design in terms of the navigation of physical space with a strong focus on signage. I personally believe that wayfinding design is the design of navigational behaviour and not signage, which often combines the navigation of physical space as well as processes. This requires the consideration of a broad range of measures, including the development of operational processes, environmental changes and staff training as well as information delivery in the form of signage.

This approach differs from a purely graphic or signage response, as it requires an understanding of fields and ideas that usually exist outside the design field, such as semiotics, affordance and syntax modelling.

Quite often the best wayfinding strategists come from operational backgrounds or from the sciences rather than from a design background

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Starbucks ‘The Bank’ Concept Store in Amsterdam

Can local be blended with a global brand- glocal? Starbucks are trying and without having been there it looks good for us caffeine heads…pity about the real local entrepreneurs  – overtones of the battle between Cosatu and Wallmart in South Africa, local vs global ? From Contemporist

Starbucks Coffee have recently been opening special concept stores in various cities around the world. This week, their latest concept store known as “The Bank” will open in Amsterdam.

Starbucks’s New Coffee Experience ‘Laboratory’ in Amsterdam

In a few days, (March 8), Starbucks will open a new concept store in Amsterdam. With its ‘Slow’ Coffee Theatre, hyper-local design, floating community gathering spaces and  on-site bakery, Starbucks ‘The Bank’ is a glimpse into Starbuck’s vision of the future.

While over the last few years Starbucks has gone to great lengths to reinforce the superlative quality of its coffee and products, under the radar they’ve been re-defining the atmosphere in which we drink it. In Seattle, New York, London, Paris and now Amsterdam, Starbucks has been stealthily unveiling unique, highly individualized and local concept stores across America.

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