In the last 20 years, our ways of shopping have been heavily digitalized. Buying online is fast and convenient. Shopping catalogues driven by big data and algorithms are getting better and better in creating relevant product suggestions. And with a variety of secure and reliable e-payment methods available, e-commerce is as accessible as ever – at any time and any place thanks to many easy to use shopping apps. However, this development of impersonal, virtual shopping habits is producing a crosscurrent. The more digital our society becomes, the more customers long for real experiences. We believe shopping malls should be places specifically designed to create these unique moments that do not take place on a screen but in real life, right here, right now.
New Types of Consumers
Together with a soaring upper-middle class, Chinese millennials will be the top priority target group when it comes to shopping malls. This development means that new types of consumers will emerge. Their expectations of urban shopping and leisure activities will be diverse. Some people will hanker for the high quality of comfort; others will desire a fast-paced interactive and immersive experience. What all of them have in common is that they enjoy shopping as a social activity.
Millennials do not shop because they need new jeans or something to eat. They do it to search for ways to look more beautiful, eat better, live healthier and be more connected with friends and family by sharing real, meaningful and unique experiences. For them, shopping is a way of finding and living a greater sense of individuality. They are looking for brands and goods that express their personality. This means that shopping no longer satisfies the sole purpose of purchasing commodities. It is not about looking for necessities, it is about realizing dreams and playing out desires.
When shopping for goods that speak to these desires, millennials are willing to pay premium for quality and sustainability. Being ethically and environmentally responsible in consumption is part of who they want to be. It is crucial to tailor shopping malls to relevant target groups – and to think of target groups not strictly in terms of what they want but why they want it.
Our approach to designing shopping malls is grounded in the belief that we are not simply designing a building full of retail stores but rather a social space that is engaging and inviting. It is important to us that a mall is welcoming and hospitable, we want users to feel appreciated and even received as visitors. Visual guidance and places of orientation are vital elements in creating a readable space that invites users to connect and to stay.
We design memorable places that serve as the backdrop for social experiences – meeting a colleague for coffee, going to the movies with your siblings or getting a new dress for your best friend’s wedding. As a well-designed environment, the mall adds value to these social activities and ensures that the hours and days spent together will become treasured memories.
In our current collaboration with CR land, we are designing the MixC mall in Dalian, China. The mall is located in a new district that is highly attractive to young families who find the center of their family life here. This surrounding residential area led us to designing the mall as an extension of the family living space. Instead of creating yet another stereotypical white, featureless, and impersonal mall, we designed a place with experience driven attraction points.
Our use of sensual and warm materials makes the mall resemble the nature in Dalian and creates a generous, animated space with an inviting atmosphere. In their name in feel these areas resemble the places in our homes: the library, a place to explore and to find new things; the open kitchen where you get together and share high quality food; or the living room with its promise of comfort and relaxation. This way, we speak to all the different desires of each family member.
Turning Dreams into Memories
We understand that to change the space we have to change the perception of the space. The goal of our interior design is to offer users the possibility for discovery. We believe that exploring a space is the only way to really make it your own, experience individual stories and turn dreams into memories. In his movie Inception, Christopher Nolan wanted to explore “the idea of people sharing a dream space, that gives you the ability to access somebody's unconscious mind”. We work with real “dream spaces”: shopping malls, hotels, or apartments.
The goal of our design is to find the unique in every project. We have no interest in creating a consistent style. We work on the premise that every client and every project is different. To create matching identity spaces is what drives our creative thinking every day.