Consuming is a natural act as human being to survive. This concept of ‘consuming' has been brought into modern life in more complex activity in forms of selling, buying, and using. One activity that becomes the main highlight of them is called ‘shopping'. Shopping can be seen as in a positive way of fulfilling the ‘needs' and ‘wants'. But apparently, it has developed so fast, in terms of activity, space, and products. And over the past decades, it becomes major aspect in human life.
Museums, libraries, airports, hospitals, and schools are becoming increasingly indistinguishable from shopping. Their adoption of retail for survival has unleashed an enormous wave of commercial entrapment that has transformed museumgoers, researchers, travelers, patients, and students into customers. What if the strategy were to reverse the equation, so that customers were no longer identified as consumers, but recognized as researchers, students, patients, museumgoers? What if the shopping experience were not one of impoverishment but of enrichment? (Koolhaas, 2001)
Shopping is arguably the most universal activity nowadays. Space is designed in such a way to accommodate this, to enable people to shop anywhere, anytime. Human psychology place important part to determine: how the shopping space is going to be, and how the overall experience of the activity should be planned. The retail spaces that exist now are based on the research of consumer behaviour. It is by understanding issues such as how consumers think, feel, reason, and select between different alternatives (e.g., brands or products), how the consumer is influenced by his or her environment (e.g., culture, family, signs, media), and how consumer motivation and decision strategies differ between products that differ in their level of importance or interest that they entail for the consumer. Overall, it helps to determine effective the retail space that deliver products and experience which lead into bigger income.
Over the past decades, shopping has been a significant factor in Singapore's urban renewal policies for the Central Area and outlying new town developments. The nation portrays itself as a shopping center. This concept leads Singapore to plan its urban planning, infrastructures, and national growth. It also built much of its tourist reputation on its shopping facilities, but in recent years its retail offer has begun to look decidedly boring against the CBDs of rival Asian cities such as Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Tokyo and even Seoul. In the response, the nation's mall operators, and some newcomers, have been reinventing the offer. A colossal $5 billion+ integrated casino, hotel, convention and retail resort of Marina Bay Sands, Resort World Sentosa, and new shopping malls emerged on the Orchard Road belts are some of the evident. From retail point of view, this could be a chance and challenge at the same time. When the market is open wide consisting local and tourists, the competition is also considerably tense.
Fashion retail is one of the most highly competitive markets. Lead by high class international brand such as LMVH, Gucci, and Prada, fashion has become one attracting point of Singapore for both local costumer and tourists. As new shopping malls being established, more fashion retails are being added to the city. Time to time, the competition has push each brand to come up with high-end design for its retail. Design and technologies are optimized in its use to boost the shopping experience that lead to brand awareness.
Architecture or Interior Design plays its role to deliver the product into the environment. Not only representing the brand and helps it to compete with other brands, the retail as a conducive commercial environment is responsible to establish the relationship between products and customers.
...today's fashion is about bodies enclosed by the thinnest and most translucent skins, just like buildings. The essence of the common ground of architect and fashion designer is to be immersed in technicalities. The proof is their shared use of the same word ‘fabric' (Pawley, year?)
Design for fashion retail is less complex, in term of technical aspect, compared to other store such as F&B, or Hotel. Nevertheless, it can be vital since it relates closely to the product and determine the costumers' final decision to buy or to leave. Fashion retail design consists of layout, materials, display, lighting, etc. All these things will create the final atmosphere that provides the shopping experience.
In Fashion, retail is definitely the identity of the brand itself. It goes beyond functionality, it has to be distinctive and fresh. More than just a place to display the product and providing circulation for people to walk and browse the product, the retail has to relate itself to the product and the company philosophy. More than promoting the product, the environment has to blend with the clothes and create overall unity. Only by this way, the customer will see the bigger picture of the brand, and not loose pieces of different aspects that build the brand.
One astonishing example of fashion store is Calvin Klein Paris by John Pawson. Established in 2002, the interior represent Calvin Klein style. Straight lines and clear space sequences brings out the clarity of the clothes, creating a simplistic ambiance of the store.
The aesthetic continuities between the design of the new Paris store on Avenue Montaigne and earlier work for Calvin Klein are clear. Where the challenge in New York was to insert new accommodation without disrupting the handsome proportions of the original interior, however, in Paris the raw material was less architecturally striking, with pressure on floor space preventing the incorporation of extensive double-height elements. The design therefore focuses on the quality of the spatial sequence and on the refinement of the smallest details of junction, light and surface.
With Singapore landscape nowadays that has been over-crowded with shopping malls and retail stores, the creation of retail store should be more carefully considered. Retail formation, however, should consider avoiding similar addition to the existing scene that might create saturated market. It is retail that creates new way of experiencing shopping, and not product-oriented but customer-oriented. To address the issue, this concept must cater the following factor in its design approach:
Flexible space that accommodate constant change
Retails should be able to change themselves frequently. It has to be able to adapt to new products, seasonality, and customer trends. Or, regardless those things, it has to change in order to create different interaction of people and product the next time they come again to shop. With this concept, it is not only the displays that change every time new products are launched, but the whole store represent the display that able to change entirely.
‘There is a high level of experimentation in retail design. It relates to fashion, and fashion changes constantly, is surprising and wants to create experiences. Designer can experiment in retail spaces and transfer the same ideas to other kinds of spaces.' (de Wild, 2009)
Centre of social activities
The new concept of retail store is not only catering commercial activities. It is to make use of retail space as social meeting point. It is when people come and do many other activities instead of selling, advertising, and buying, a store that accommodate customers to rest and relief without any pressure to buy while they are unconsciously enjoying the products and tempted to buy.
‘With the global trend of privatization, I think we are most interested in the idea of shopping as a new kind of public space. How can we enrich these experiences? Can we bring new content, information, ideas and visual experiences to shopping in a thoughtful and dynamic way?' (Seller, 2009)
Local relevancy is important to make a store appears hospitable. Selling products is not about bombarding potential customers with the products. Instead, it has to be relevant to the context and understand local customers. The new concept store is about being able to combine the attractiveness of the brand with local taste to create strong invitation to customers.
In fashion retail, the way the space is designed has straight connection to customers' experience and decision to buy the product. With an over-saturated market in Singapore, an unconventional design is required to create refreshing effect and to provide new shopping experience. There should be new concept of retail design, with consideration of three main design approach (flexible space, center of social activities, and local relevance). The new retail store requires constant changing in order to provide different shopping experience for customers. A store has to be a social assembly more than a commercial place, providing a tranquil customer-oriented atmosphere. Lastly, it is necessary for a store to have a connection with local context and create a sense of belonging in customers mind.
* Antonini, Alessandra. 2008. Design Boutiques. Barcelona: Links
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* Harvard Design School. 2001. The Harvard Design School Guide to Shopping. Cambridge: Taschen
* Manuelli, Sara. 2006. Design for Shopping. London: Laurence King
* Mostaedi, Arian. 2004. Cool Shops. Singapore: Page One
* Riewaldt, Otto. 2000. Retail Design. London: Page One
* Singapore Department of Statistic. 2009. Yearbook of Statistics Singapore. Statistics Singapore [Internet] (Updated 13 Aug 2009) Available at: www.singstat.gov.sg/pubn/reference/yos09/yos2009.pdf [Accessed 10 January 2010].