Spatial Design at AUT

School of Art + Design, AUT University, Auckland, NZ

Talking Shop. Modernizing the NZ Retail Environment. Interior Studio Brief 2011

Interior Strand, Toby G. Russell

The spatial design of the modern retail environment is more than the placement of a product in a space and the associated merchant to complete the exchange of goods for funds.  In fact most designers would agree that Andy Warhol had it right with respect to all forms of retail design when he said

“When you think about it, department stores are kind of like museums.”

This semester will be focused on the design of a contemporary retail environment.  An in-depth understanding of the greater retail landscape will form the basis for our insertion of these fundamentals into a specific “vanilla box” in Newmarket, Auckland.  By building an understanding of these elements we will experiment with their interpretation and implementation culminating in the presentation of a fully resolved modern shopping experience.

While, arguably, the most successful retail region in Auckland is Newmarket it falls short of the draw and prestige of the great retail centres of the world (think New York City, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, etc).  We will begin our understanding of the spatial design of retail by studying the existing fabric of the Newmarket neighbourhood with the epicentre of our studies focused at the Broadway and Khyber Pass intersection.  Individuals and small groups will collect, analyze, and present information on selected merchants and present their findings and critiques as they relate to (but not limited to) the following:


Enclosure: volume, floor and ceiling planes, changes in elevation

Branding: signage, tag lines, symbols, graphics

Product Display: fixturing, chevroning, lighting, placement of product lines

Staffing: greeting, sales staff, supplementary staff

Circulation: transition zone, butt-brush effect, seating, retracing / tracking

Points-of-Service: fixed cash wraps, roaming sales, web-based


These disparate pieces will be graphically woven together to present a mapping of the commercial trade in the area of focus and help us begin to see patterns and trends.  This will be presented as collected map and form the groundwork for our research.

Using an existing retail space as our laboratory we will explore the introduction of a re-imagined brand into the space.  Each individual will be tasked with the challenge of inserting their vision of retail, based upon the principles discussed, into the given space.   This will include the built environment, store planning, branding, product display, general lighting design, and detailed customer touch points.

Download Studio Brief