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Retail Design Trend Forecast: Mixed-Use Spaces and the ‘15-Minute City’

Retail Design Forecast Mixed Use 15-Minute City
Photo courtesy of CRTKL

The CallisonRTKL 2022 Forecast reveals how shopping trends favoring convenience and technologies that ease decision-making for purchases are shaping the future of physical retail spaces — including retail’s role in the “15-minute city” concept and the repurposing of mall spaces.

According to the second annual report from the global architecture and design firm, shopping centers, malls and department stores are being transformed into mixed-use spaces, a trend that prioritizes the needs of consumers whose time is valuable as they change the ways they live, work, shop, dine, exercise and socialize. One example is the creation of relatively compact “integrated spaces” that brands, service providers, makers and retailers can customize as incubator pop-ups feature a rotating roster of offerings.

“Spaces for the new economy, especially malls or department stores, can have different uses at different times of day — from a yoga studio in the morning to events or gallery space in the evening,” said David Cassidy, a Principal with CRTKL in the report. “The blend of experiences is critical. A space is productive and profitable when people are engaged and using it, so it is time we think of these environments in constant motion and function — not static and singularly purposed.”

The report also noted that aging adults are expressing the desire to live in urban areas for greater convenience via amenities concentrated within their neighborhoods. CRTKL sees opportunities to reimagine office spaces as resources that afford compact, convenient access to options for dining, shopping, culture, leisure and entertainment.

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CRTKL also emphasized the potential of the “15-minute city” concept — that in the interest of convenience and promoting sustainability, people should be able to conduct their tasks, including working, shopping and leisure activities, within a distance measured by a 15-minute walk or bicycle ride from their homes.

Additionally, retailers are investing in technologies that simplify the brick-and-mortar shopping experience, tailoring these experiences to the customer within immersive and interactive environments. Through this shift, CRTKL sees brick-and-mortar locations evolving into showroom-style spaces where consumers can experience products prior to purchase.

For example, at a New York City Tempur-Pedic store, beds are showcased within private areas that allow customers to feel as though they are in a relaxing bedroom space rather than a showroom. Customers shop Tempur-Pedic products in the middle of a busy Manhattan store while feeling as though they are miles away relaxing in a new bed, helped by footage of natural landscapes that is projected on the sides and ceiling of the room.

“The big question for us was, how do you create an experience that’s relaxing and natural at one of the busiest intersections of all of Manhattan,” said Paul Conder, a Principal with CRTKL in a video detailing the project. “The approach that we took on the digital side was to combine live video shot in some of the most beautiful environments in the world with three-dimensional, virtual environments that were created in the unreal game engine.”

It’s all part of store design’s 2022 focus on “feel, fit and function,” Conder added. “You can come into a space, it’s got a beautiful beach behind it as you approach it, it goes to a sunset and as you lie down on the bed and try that out clouds appear above your head. This immersive interactive environment is a great way to take the edge off the typical digital environment and create something that is very soft and very gentle and completely immersive.”

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