Architectural company Urban Experts (Kyiv), and Leslie Jones Architecture (London), have won the tender of international development company Immochan to create the interior design of their unique shopping and entertainment centre (SEC) Rive Gauche in Kyiv. Simon Scott, Head of International Business at Leslie Jones Architecture talked to Urban Experts PR department about Rive Gauche interior design.
Leslie Jones Architecture designed famous shopping centers and airports around the world. In what way will your previous projects influence Rive Gauche interior design?
Leslie Jones has an extensive experience in designing shopping malls and retail environments. Our background is not only designing malls, but also airports. So we approach design in a slightly different manner — we’re not simply designing interiors, it is about an environment that supports and enlivens retail and is responsive to trends, such as omnichannel retail. Interiors have to be more than just a shopping mall — that’s the critical thing. Therefore, it’s very interesting that we now have an opportunity to work with great client like Immochan, who are approaching the interiors in a different way. So, we can draw upon all the different experiences that we have in order to create a very special place — one that’s convenient, but also picks up on the lifestyle of those individuals and the market that this shopping center is serving. We provide a degree of personalization. Shopping is increasingly more a leisure activity, and we need to make people very comfortable to be in those environments long-term.
Interior design is quite a complex process. Where do you start from, and what mainly influences your design solutions?
We need to look at the profile of people who will be using the center and provide spaces and feel for that environment that responds to them. It also needs to bring together those individual brands, which is essentially the core reason why we are creating the interior. Increasingly, digital retail is present, and it’s the way people shop today. But the physical store is a critical step in the “purchasing journey” for the individual. We want to be able to bring individuals into that space, to make them feel comfortable and, therefore, comfortable to shop, browse and have connection with the retail units in the space. It’s also about creating interiors that are bright, fresh, and exciting, but that are also flexible spaces. Again, shopping centers have to be able to respond to the changing needs, incorporate pop-up retailing, and to have a connection through digital media with the customers. So, nowadays we have to do even more than in the past, when it was about creating great finishes that had some longevity and endurance against the wear. Now, we have to create environment, that is able to change and respond the needs of the individual and, equally, the way that retail might be presented in different ways for different seasons or change over time.
Could you tell us a bit more about Leslie Jones Architecture projects?
We do a lot work in the UK with INTU shopping centers, who are a leading company, and are expanding significantly into Europe, while having a large presence in the UK. If you were to go and see the number of centers that they have around the UK, and those centers that Leslie Jones Architecture were involved with, such as Watford and New Castle, there is a consistency of quality and look-and-feel, as well as the uniqueness to them. That’s an undercurrent in all our interior work. I would also reference all the work we’re doing with the airports — such as interior work on Dubai airport, and the current work on Hong Kong airport, where environment has to support cutting-edge retail, but also it’s an environment that is there for the passengers to find the way to the plane. This space is more diverse in many respects, and more complex than a shopping center. Now, work with Immochan is another step beyond that, and here we can bring our key experiences together. I think Immochan have a particularly strong view about how to make mainstream shopping centers work in a different way in terms of the spaces that are created there. That’s why it’s quite exciting that Leslie Jones Architecture and Urban Experts work together to create something that follows Immochan’s new shopping center model, but also is a little bit groundbreaking, something that is moving retail environment forward.
Leslie Jones Architecture worked with Westfield malls. Could you tell us a bit more?
We are working on Westfield Stratford — they have a great model in terms of their approach, and something we’re hoping to add to Rive Gauche too. It’s in the early stages with Rive Gauche yet, so I can’t give you specific details. That’s quite an exciting company that is very successful and has a very strong brand . There is a high bar to achieve in everything we’re doing when working with them. Again, that allows us to draw upon our experience, including work with Westfield. But every solution has to have a degree of uniqueness for a client like Immochan and for the Rive Gauche location. That’s not to say we want to have bespoke interiors all the time. It has to have a degree of consistency, but what we need to do is innovate where we can and draw upon all the strength of our previous work.
Could you share some information about how Rive Gauche will actually look like?
Still early days, isn’t it? Immochan starting point was very clear to us — to create identifiable places within the men environment. It is exciting to see how that develops, and we’ll be able to talk about the design details within a couple of months, when it emerges. Again, that might be similar to work with airports, where you’re trying to create a character to dwell the space, a leisure experience. Seating area in the airport should be a part of holistic environment that is exciting and adds to a journey though that space. Going to a new Rive Gauche shopping center in Kyiv your purpose might be to simply buy one item. If we can add to that through the interior design, create a solution that individuals can relate to, then we’re more likely to get people to the shopping center and they are more likely to eat, drink, and shop there more. Spending money on interiors is not just about creating a nice glossy feel, it’s about being exciting to go to the shopping mall, and potentially holding people longer.
Rive Gauche is located quite far from Kyiv city center. Does it change the way you approach design in any way?
I think that with omnichannel retailing, with an ability to shop online, people might be less enthused to go to the city center. They might want to have more opportunity to go and browse those products locally. So we should provide the right range of contact and availability of immersive retail experiences locally. It will always be different — because you’re creating a retail environment and showcase of products that are targeted to that particular markets – and that would be different from the shopping malls at the city center. It’s about contact – people still want to go and see products, they still want to feel them. You might be able to see clothes in 3D at home in the future, but I’m confident that people will still want to go and feel the clothes. That’s why, whether it’s local or it’s a city center, we aim at creating an enjoyable experience for the visitors.
You come to Ukraine quite often and, we assume, you’ve been to most of the shopping centers already. According to you, how capital’s malls can be improved?
Retailing in inherently conservative in may ways, because you’re basically asking retailers to take a space which is potentially a box, lined up in a series of boxes, lined up in a mall. If we just deliver that, then it’ll become mundane. What we’re trying to do, is prove the experience and make it attractive. If you look at all the shopping centers in Kyiv, as in many cities around the world, some of the older shopping centers don’t make this aspiration, they maybe are slightly more mundane. They still work ok, but are they exciting? Are they adaptable? What we are trying to create going forward, is this flexible, more cutting-edge environment, that will be better for the future and more responsive to different ways people will shop. So, as centers go older in Kyiv, they need to be more creative in the way they curate retail. There’s always a way for the older shopping centers to get better.
Rive Gauche is a unique shopping and entertainment centre on the Kyiv left bank, launched by “Immochan Ukraine”. The Realisation of the shopping centre, Rive Gauche — with its total area of 150,000 sq.m. — is carried out in two phases, opening in 2017 and 2019. Ukraine’s largest hypermarket Auchan will open in Rive Gauche (15,000 sq.m.), with a shopping gallery of 60 boutiques (over 5,000 sq.m.), and unique format of innovative digital services for customers.
With nearly 400 shopping centres managed in 12 countries across Europe and Asia, Immochan is one of today’s leading European commercial real estate companies for shopping centres.
For 40 years, Immochan has been developing its global expertise in commercial real estate and mastery of the whole value creation chain — ranging from investment and dynamic asset management, through to the design, marketing, management and promotion of shopping centres.
The company “Immochan Ukraine” was founded in 2007 and is part of Auchan Holding. Currently, “Immochan Ukraine” manages 3 shopping galleries in Kyiv: Auchan Petrovka, Auchan Belichi, and Auchan Chernigovskaya shopping centre. Currently, the company is working on the implementation of 3 large-scale projects: 2 in Kyiv, and 1 in Odessa, with the latter planning to open in 2017 and 2019.
Urban Experts, Ukraine’s exclusive partner to one of the world’s best architecture bureaus, Leslie Jones architecture, provides world-class architectural services in all segments of real estate in Ukraine, Eastern Europe, the CIS and the Baltic States. Urban Experts works with the market leaders in Ukrainian real estate, including UDP, KAN Development, Mandarin Plaza, Kyivmiskbud, Arkada Bank, Argo Real Estate Fund and various others.
Leslie Jones Architecture
Leslie Jones is a leading architecture firm best known for its retail and leisure expertise. The imaginative and experienced team of designers and architects has a creative approach to retail schemes that enhance the value and performance of clients, whilst providing a positive contribution to surrounding communities.