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Customer-centric design
for an evolving mall

How do we broaden the reason to draw people back to our malls?

How do we reduce the barriers that prevent shoppers from coming in physically?

How can sustainable and circular design improve the overall physical ecosystem?

As communities move out of the grip of the pandemic, we see a change in the retail mall’s design, presentation and functionality. While this looks different from place to place – for example, from a suburban mall to a regional mall – common elements point to an evolution of these spaces. There are also common questions being asked.

At Diadem, we use the fundamentals of person-centred design to ensure retail spaces are optimised to enhance the customer experience and create strong community connections.


Kelvin Taylor


Knowing the needs of people – from their behaviours to how they move through a space – is fundamental to designing an outcome with meaning. Designing and building an ecosystem that considers these needs naturally leads to creating places people will want to visit, stay in and meet other people. These places go beyond being functional through considered design and activation to become a destination.

and inclusion

Designing for diversity and inclusion is key. Understanding the people that use your space is the best starting place. Diadem is collaborating with Stockland to create and refurbish amenity facilities at their Wetherill Park and Baldivis Town Centres. Depending on the demography, this has included facilities from prayer and family rooms to quiet spaces.

safety and dignity

Design for physical disabilities, including wheelchair access, vision and hearing-impaired users, leads to better outcomes and is often highlighted within the ESG policies of major funds managers and developers. Engaging with vision and hearing-impaired users to find out their needs and applying these in a physical environment will go a long way towards creating psychologically safe environments.

Retail spaces should also consider appropriate and flexible physical and cultural amenities to create safe spaces to be in and navigate, and that foster personal dignity. The design process should consider aspects of universal design through the lifecycle of a mall, from its design and fit-out to its ongoing use and maintenance.

and biophilia

There is well-documented evidence supporting links between employee health, wellness, productivity and retention, as well as revenue through the design of physical spaces.

We know that the design of spaces with greenery elements improves productivity and creativity by over 12%.

Aspects of thermal comfort, light, mobility and access to good nutrition and hydration greatly impact human wellbeing. These are all concepts that can be included in the design stage.

and belonging

Humans are made for relationships; we have a natural need to feel we belong. The design of spaces that enable us to assemble, share experiences, be a part of a collective and exchange stories is vital – particularly in malls which are a natural place for people to connect.

This is why successful retail spaces go beyond retail to offer a variety of uses.

These include food, entertainment, childcare, co-working, transportation, libraries and community spaces, hospitality and residences.

plane experiences

First impressions last. Ensuring the ground plane arrival experience is the best it can be is important in ensuring customer satisfaction. A key user journey is the car park arrival and parking sequence. Leaving the retail space is equally important. Incorporating activations and using digital mediums can help create enticing, memorable and experiential environments.

Brand equity
and advocacy

Brand advocates are the best way to enhance value. Visitors to a mall are likelier to become advocates in spaces where they feel they can stay longer and explore more stores or services. Customers are the primary source of funding for most businesses it makes sense to have a customer-centric approach to building customer satisfaction and brand equity.

I’m discussing customer-centric design at the Malls of the Future Summit in Sydney on March 1st. Because while places change, if we put people first, we can go a long way to making sure those places are ready to meet the needs of people for years to come.

Featuring more than 35 leading global and local speakers, networking activities and solutions showcase, this a must-attend event for developers, tenants, agents, investors, designers, construction firms and solution providers operating in the retail environment.



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