How do you shape the future of shopping? Consultancy for Unibail Rodamco Westfield

  • Title
    • Mall of the Future (2018)
  • Client
    • Fronteer
  • Commissioned by
    • Unibail Rodamco Westfield
  • In collaboration with
    • HEMA, Bijenkorf, Containr, and others
  • Location
    • Amsterdam

What if you had a space at your disposal where you can create any retail concept your heart desires? And how do you make this the absolute place-to-be? These were the central questions in a co-creation session organized by Fronteer and commissioned by Unibail Rodamco Westfield. Arttenders was invited to consult on these questions alongside various experts in retail and the creative industry.

Photo credit: courtesy of Fronteer

Shopping centers as lifestyle magazines

Unibail Rodamco Westfield aims to be the premier global developer and operator of flagship shopping destinations. They concentrate on the best assets in the world’s most dynamic cities. They view shopping centers as a lifestyle destination and therefore have a huge impact on how people live, work, shop, connect and are entertained. The intention of Unibail Rodamco Westfield is to make a positive contribution to the social, environmental and economic well-being of urban communities.

Fronteer is an Amsterdam-based agency for impact strategy. They apply collaborative innovation to accelerate a positive impact. For Unibail Rodamco Westfield they set up an afternoon of co-creation and invited Arttenders’ Faye Ellen alongside various experts in retail and from the creative industry for their combined brainpower. The afternoon was aimed at solving a shared challenge focusing on the future of shopping. A shopping center should be like a magazine, with a change in collection every few months so you can create and re-create urgency.

Also there needs to be something that you have to take a selfie with, even if hundreds of people already did so before you did. “You have to have your rubber duck”, says Faye, “like the one Florentijn Hofman makes. Those are a must-see.” A top destination also needs interactive and educational environments for play, like an assault course or a skating rink.

The world's first art mall

All participants of the strategy session prepared some homework. Everyone brought an example of their favorite retail destination. Faye, always knowledgeable on the topic of retail experiences, offered K11 as her source of inspiration. K11 is an immersive shopping mall in Hong Kong that claims to be the world’s first ‘art mall’, integrating art, people and elements of nature. K11 spent millions placing numerous art pieces on each floor, from benches and ceiling ornaments to wall decorations and giant sculptures. The artworks are mostly from local artists. The building also has 19 exhibition panels and exhibits change every three months.

Presumably the idea for this shopping mall originated during the recession, when a shopping trip wasn’t an obvious outing anymore. However, the combination of shopping and a visit to the museum could count as the ultimate day trip and thus K11 emerged.

Other sources of inspiration brought forward that day were F.A.O. Schwartz, a quintessential toy store in New York (even their website is worth a visit!) and 10 Corso Como, an iconic concept store in Milan.

Art is always a solution

What stood out to us this afternoon, is that art kept recurring as a solution to this specific enquiry. As soon as people see that things have to be approached from a different angle, art comes around the corner as the perfect catalyst for change. However, art is never a quick fix! In our experience, it should be part of a business trajectory from the get-go. In order to create the best possible customer experience and to differentiate your brand, art can be an answer to both these questions.