Ask the Board – September 15, 2016 | IGNAZ GORISCHEK


How are you planning to circumvent the lack of standards as one of the key threats to industry growth?

I have spent my entire 37-year career in retail, specifically department stores, with the last 29 years focused on luxury. We all know what has happened to the brick and mortar stores with the introduction of Internet shopping. This disruptor, though having a negative effect on the physical store, is making designers take a new look and approach to store design. The “standards” of store design were always to make a store not only beautiful, but to make sure the merchandise was presented in a neat and orderly fashion. Of course, this is a simplified statement, but it will do for the purpose of this post.

The new “standards,” which are still being defined, take the in-store experience to a whole new level. That experience must now entertain, provide a unique experience, be flexible, integrate new technologies, be a place for social gathering, be original, and yes, sell merchandise. All of these requisites and more have pushed designers into a new era that has turned long-accepted standards on their head! Big box and mall retail has been hit the hardest.

The sheer size of both seem to be working against them. Smaller seems to be better. Plus, it allows entrepreneurs to enter the retail space with low to no capital investment. I am not saying all malls are dead and dying. There are several in my market that appear to be thriving. However, there are plenty that are showing a steady decline. So what to do with these properties?

Our firm is taking this head on. We have recently finished and published a white paper titled, The Mall of the Future that  can be seen at It provides an in-depth look at assumptions from how space can be re-planned to how autonomous cars will impact parking including re-thinking arrival and pick up points among other findings. We are also embarking on a study of the Department Store of the Future as well, looking into the past to learn and plan for the future. So as disruptive as the Internet is, it has clearly redefined the approach designers should take for the foreseeable future. There are many great minds working on the future of retail and while doing so, this will result in a new set of standards.


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Vice President of Architecture
Callison RTKL

Industry Consultants

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