Sense of Place

A natural focus

In association with

Perth International Airport’s transformed retail space captures natural and cultural elements of Australia through The Design Solution’s ‘placemaking’ design work.

The design behind the transformed retail experience at Perth International Airport offers a subtle celebration of the natural beauty of Western Australia and the vibrancy of the ocean city.

Designed by London-based travel retail design specialists The Design Solution, in partnership with Dufry and Perth Airport Pty Ltd, the dynamic new departures retail space of 1,200sq m is part of a +50% expansion of retail floorspace at the airport.

The design aims to resonate with natural and cultural elements of Australia, providing a deep expression of location at the airport.

The store design concept integrates that local focus across the retail experience, according to The Design Solution. This is most noticeable through the installation of a series of large-scale representations of Western Australia’s iconic boab tree, a favourite sight for tourists to the region, to highlight feature areas within the store. The ‘canopy’ of each tree helps designate the promotional space below it.

The strongest expression of ‘local’ is transmitted in the Perth Street Market area, a new local products concept specifically developed by Dufry for Perth Airport. The market celebrates local produce and goods such as wines, confectionery, gifts, skincare, homeware and a wide selection of foods.

Dufry’s specialist concept for sunglasses, watches & jewellery – The Collection store – incorporates the boab tree form as the central feature

Among other store highlights, Dufry’s specialist concept for sunglasses, watches & jewellery – The Collection store – incorporates the boab tree form as the central feature of the store. This is complemented by digital screens and product displays within the unit while the store adopts the colour tones of the coast’s sunsets, including ocean-style reflections used in silver tones against reflective golden surfaces.

In perfumes & cosmetics, the shimmering coastal waters are echoed in the colour tones and textures while local liquor & food adopts the state’s rich, rustic landscape limestone formations to the region’s 24 national parks.

As part of a digital focus across the store, a series of ‘digital echoes’ are integrated into the boab trees, strategically placed in promotional areas to provide marketing messaging such as the latest seasonal event campaign, new product launches and store branding.

“The local spirit is shared comprehensively across the holistic space, complemented by Dufry’s commitment to creating a unique identity for the retail experience at Perth and sharing an outstanding retail experience for the shopper,” says The Design Solution Director Nick Taylor.

“We’re delighted with our design work at Perth Airport, particularly in the local expression of what we call ‘placemaking’ rather than the perhaps overused term ‘Sense of Place’.

“It’s crucial that airport retail design presents a deeper expression of what is now commonly referred to as ‘Sense of Place’. It’s great that the industry is developing a stronger awareness of the need – and the shoppers’ demands – for a stronger and unique local expression in the design of the retail experience but I think the scale and depth of the process is still hugely misunderstood within the industry.

Not a clichéd kangaroo or boomerang in sight: The Perth Street Market area is an authentic and credible local expression

“In particular, there is sometimes a misconception in travel retail that ‘Sense of Place’ is dominant over the overall design concept when, in fact, it is actually simply a component of the concept, albeit an important one. So, whether we are assessing a shop or an airport, my view is that we are aiming to create a contemporary, unique interior design with an element or vein of locally-inspired design references.

“In a shop, these local references are carefully married with the product being sold, so you are at the same time enhancing the whole ‘feel the category’ mood of the space to engage the shopper. Here at Perth, for example, we’ve achieved that across the whole space but it’s especially apparent in the Perth Street Market area, sharing an authentic and credible local expression – without a clichéd kangaroo or boomerang in sight.

“This approach goes well beyond the simplistic outcomes still seen at some airports whereby a supposed ‘Sense of Place’ is actually just a designated space with a basic display of local products and has no design cohesion with the holistic retail space.

“From a design perspective, the measure of success comes from the local reference points being clear enough that the traveller immediately understands and enjoys them but they then also discover something beyond that immediate familiarity. We’re always aiming to surprise them in sharing a unique sense of local character and identity.

“At The Design Solution we’re seeing airports of all sizes who understand their unique potential to express a sense of their location, not only further differentiating their airport but also driving significant performance potential.”

An opinion column by Nick Taylor on the concept of Sense of Place can be read in the previous issue of The Moodie Davitt eZine. Click here to view.

The Moodie Davitt eZine

Issue 269 | 15 October 2019

The Moodie Davitt eZine is published 20 times per year by The Moodie Davitt Report (Moodie International Ltd).

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