Lighting and materials create
distinctive experiences, such as
at this Ports 1961 in Shanghai.
5 Attention to Detail
Retail stores in China tend to feature unique textures and
materials due to a penchant for well-designed objects. Feng
shui teachings may have ingrained this in the Chinese. Or it
may have grown out of access to low-cost premium materials,
thanks to China’s proximity to the sources and its overall buying power due to the number of stores.
In addition, Chinese consumers spend more on luxury items
in relation to their income than do North Americans. Gates to
markets Chinese have not been able to access for a long time are
now open, and the newly born middle class and affluent young
people are seeking more sophisticated experiences.
Whatever the motivating factors, store design leverages layers of textures through materials, colors, and lighting. A stroll
down any outdoor pedestrian mall will reveal the intricacies
of Chinese design and how it creates distinctive experiences.
Attention is given not only to materials, but also more importantly, to how the space feels and reflects the cultural needs of
the population. From an emphasis on vistas and views to the
overall flow of the space, stores and restaurants in China are
well designed, with the emphasis on the customer’s perspective,
not the operator’s.
As retailers around the world explore new design options,
they may want to spend time studying design trends emerging
As Chinese retail brands continue to grow and prosper, it
is also conceivable that they will start popping up elsewhere.
Developers are always keen on providing unique brands as part
of their tenant mix, and some of these rapidly growing, well-designed Chinese brands may fit the bill.
Jean-Pierre Lacroix is president of Shikatani Lacroix ( sld.com),
a Toronto-based design firm that recently opened an office in
Shanghai. He has worked in many cities across China. Textures and finishes are critical even amid
restaurants like Dalloyau in Hong Kong.
Dragon Images: iStock.com/AnkDesign