This blog post is going to take a slightly different tone from some of my others. It unfortunately won’t offer any tips or tricks about design, nor will it share the latest trends or my most recent finds. Instead, this post is going to focus on the big picture… both life and designs role in it.
As some of you may already know from my Instagram, a few months back I finished my program and received my Masters in Interior Design. It was an incredibly long journey, filled with lots of stressful nights and many tears. Were it not for the amazing support I received from my fiancé, family, friends and fellow classmates, I don’t know if I would have made it; but thankfully, I managed to preserver.
Without getting into too much detail about my program, you should know that in order to graduate, each student was tasked with developing and defending a thesis project on a design topic of his or her choice. I elected to focus my final project on the retail sector of design.
Well, to understand that, let me first share a bit more about myself. I was raised in the northern suburbs of Chicago surrounded by a huge family on both sides. I was close with each of my grandparents, but I shared a special bond with my mother’s mother… that was, a love for shopping! Some of my favorite memories with her growing up were at Florida flea markets, shopping malls, and little boutique shops she’d track down and take me to. I don’t recall any of the items purchased during our adventures, but I remember the experiences we shared together, the lessons I learned along the way, and how these moments opened my eyes to beauty and the world around me.
What does this have to do with my thesis? Well, in the technologically advanced world of today, I fear, we are at risk of losing the opportunity to have such life experiences. As we all know, the retail industry has always and continues to play an important role in both how our society operates and economy functions today; but as individuals spend more time working and on their smart phones online shopping continues to grow in popularity, and this unfortunately leaves brick and mortar retail establishments less crucial than they were 20 years ago. Thus, I set out to determine if, and further how, design can help preserve brick and mortar retail and the experiences such establishments provide us as an extension of their existence.
Why am I telling you guys this?
Well about two weeks back, my grandmother, my Nani, passed away. She lived an incredible life. Surrounded by a great family and incredible friends. She was a beautiful woman, strong, and truly lived each moment to the fullest. She loved me unconditionally and very much shaped me into the person I am today. Given she was the one who really introduced me to the art of shopping, I dedicated my entire thesis project to her when I presented this past December. While she got to see bits and pieces of my work, she unfortunately never got to see the final product. For that reason, and so many others, I am dedicating today’s post to her.
Now I’m not going to bore you with all the details, but a great deal of research went into this project. In analyzing my findings, I was able to draw several conclusions that ultimately informed the direction I took my design. Without getting into too much detail, here’s what you need to know:
- Online shopping is limited as it fails to engage all five of the human senses. This simple fact, often prevents retailers from maximizing profits and more importantly denies consumers the ability to fulfill their innate human needs.
- In order to truly preserve the value of brick and mortar retail, my design needed to give people not just one, but multiple reasons to take time out of their busy lives to go to a physical store.
- To be successful, my design needed to blend 6 key components (biophilic design ideologies, healthy living, technological advancements, environmental sustainability, community awareness, and unique experiences) together and present them as one cohesive space.
- Connection, in both the literal and abstract sense of the word, became the underlying concept that drove my design.
- My Final Thesis Statement: This thesis offers a design solution for brick and mortar retail spaces that brings renewed value and purpose to in store shopping by offering tangible experiences to the consumer and promoting community, connectivity and sustainable living.
Proposed Design Solution
My final thesis design proposed a means by which brick and mortar retail establishments can be redefined to maintain their relevance in society today. Here is a peak at what it looked like…
Power of Design
I share this with you all today not to show off my thesis work, but as a celebration of design and, more importantly, life. When I think back, my Nani wasn’t just the person who opened my eyes to the art of shopping all those years ago, she opened my eyes to the beauty that is design and the power that lies within it.
Many consider the design industry to be wasteful, unnecessary and materialistic, but, as a designer, I feel inclined to point out to those individuals that design as an industry, is so much more than that. Designers, of all kinds (interior designers, architects, graphic designers, product designers, fashion designers, engineers; etc), hold the power to truly shape the world we live in each day and ultimately impact the way each of us experience life. Going out and shopping is just one of the many things we experience throughout our lives, made possible in part by design.
I believe that design feeds life as much as life feeds design. My Nani was the person who taught me this. The person who inspired me to be a designer. I am so thankful to have had her in my life. I will miss her always, and I will be forever thankful to the many designers out there who helped shape the many spaces that allowed us to create such incredible memories together over the years.