Issue 66, August 2016
How is design responding to the rising complexity of ‘customer care’ environments?
The arrival of online shopping had retailers scared for a moment there. And so they should have been. Why would customers ever want to step foot in a shop again if they can get it quicker, cheaper and with minimum fuss from the comfort of their own home? But the internet can’t offer real world experience and retailers were quick to realise this; upping their game with fitouts that provided engaging customer-experience environments. The designer’s role in this exchange is continuously evolving in order to better care for their clients, so they can, in turn, better care for their clients.
For Koichi Takada Architects it was important that their design for the interior of Sydney’s East Village Retail was the antithesis of the traditional shopping mall model in order to maximise customer engagement. “We wanted to do something that plugged into the local community and had a sense of gathering,” says practice founder and principal Koichi Takada. “So we came up with the marketplace concept – very popular in New York at the moment – and we used that as the basis for creating an environment that had more of a warm rustic, warehouse feel to it.” Instead of leaving the space’s columns exposed, Takada clad them in plywood batons to create a series of ‘trees’ that fan up-and-across the ceiling. The result is as visually dynamic as it is memorable, with the ‘forest’ forming a canopy that envelopes customers, evoking a strong sense of calm. Incorporating a nature-inspired motif that connects the interior with the outdoors is also psychologically uplifting and if customers are happy, then they’ll be inclined to linger for longer. Takada’s most resounding design outcome is the project’s 5 Star Green Star rating, which has a very real impact on the customer’s wellbeing. Air quality has been improved through the incorporation of natural ventilation and natural lighting has been introduced into the space via skylights. Takada and developer PAYCE have set a new benchmark and they’ve frankly had to, as customers’ demands have increased. And as these demands continue to increase, designers’ capacity to respond with innovation, insight and consideration will also grow.
Words Leanne Amodeo
Photography Tom Ferguson