ArchiExpo e-Magazine - #39 – MallsArchiExpo e-Magazine


In this issue we discuss designing in a “dead mall” era and the latest interior design projects for major shopping malls found throughout the world, including the Siam Discovery by Japanese brand Nendo. We bring you an interview with Luke Pearson from PearsonLloyd on its designs for workplaces, healthcare centers, and aircraft interiors. You’ll discover highlights from ICFF Miami and Design Week Mexico and learn more about The HUB Performance and Exhibition Center by Neri&Hu. We give you a glimpse into the mystery of textiles by Dutch company Vlisco, and more.

Front cover photo credit: Johnny Joo


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Innovative designs for a better shopping experience
Siam Discovery. Courtesy of Nendo

With a new mall popping up every month, the challenge is to keep up with the competition and the changing preferences of shoppers. Architects and designers are constantly tasked by malls to think of new layouts and innovative designs for interiors to attract a public looking for a better shopping experience.   Unique...

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Q&A with Andrew Bromberg, global design principal at Aedas
Photo credit: Johnny Joo

After over a decade of living in a “dead mall” era, architects and designers remodel the mall concept to better meet our shopping needs today. Find out more in our Q&A with Andrew Bromberg, global design principal at Aedas.

When Amazon and eBay launched in 1995, no one could anticipate what would happen next. The outstanding growth of internet users since 2000 caused commercial spaces to start going out of style, and fast.

As early as 2002, according to a report by the Solimar Research Group, some businessmen transitioned quickly away from commercial use of the building and transformed the abandoned space into a micro-housing solution.

In parallel to the micro-living conversion, a new model of the shopping mall was offered which includes bringing natural landscape into the interior, offering entertainment in innovative ways and developing a mixed-use space.

How is the shopping mall surviving in its original form, as a brick-and-mortar commerce space? Here’s advice from Andrew Bromberg, global design principal at Aedas, on how to design in a “dead mall” era.


A Village Within A Village



ArchiExpo e-Magazine: Is the shopping mall a dying breed?

Andrew Bromberg: As a stand-alone concept, the terminology may be dead but I don’t think that shopping malls are anywhere near extinction. They may be called differently nowlandmarks or destinationsbut in essence they are no different from shopping malls of the previous era, and many of them continue to thrive.

ArchiExpo e-Magazine: What is its purpose today?

Andrew Bromberg: Times have indeed changed since the heydays of the 80s and 90s, when shopping malls were being built en masse in the U.S. and purely for profit. People’s shopping habits have changed: we didn’t then have online shopping habits, our obsession with coffee nor a fascination with pop-up shops and ‘street’ food. Today, people also have more choice where to go and shop, where to work, eat and drink. Shopping malls must therefore offer a lot more if they are to survive and do well. They must cater for all people, not just one sector of a society, be as inclusive, fluid and flexible as possible in their outlook.

The Star in Singapore designed by Andrew Bromberg. Courtesy of Andrew Bromberg at Aedas.

The Star in Singapore designed by Andrew Bromberg. Courtesy of Andrew Bromberg at Aedas.

A shopping mall must be more than a shopping mall. It has to create a community, operate more like a village within a village, a city within a city, where people can be encouraged to come and do things together. It’s about place-making.

These malls can be designed so that people are not pushed into buyingthey can just take a break from their busy lives, pause for a moment, recharge and reconnect with the city they live in.

The Star in Singapore designed by Andrew Bromberg. Courtesy of Andrew Bromberg at Aedas.

The Star in Singapore designed by Andrew Bromberg. Courtesy of Andrew Bromberg at Aedas.

Refurbished or Entirely New: Human at Heart


ArchiExpo e-Magazine: How do you go about designing public spaces such as the shopping mall?

Andrew Bromberg: As an architect, I try to go for open, fluid structures. I try not to be too dictatorial in programming these spaces. Ultimately, for me, it is about creating layers of spaces and transitions of these spaces, blurring lines between public and private with an emphasis on semi-public domains. This allows for multitudes of experience and offers opportunities of comfort and belonging.

We have to do more to elicit emotional response from people with the space we design. I want to encourage people to explore and make new discoveries about their cities. Mall owners may need to be encouraged to think more laterally. I always push for more than what the brief asks me to do.

Floor plan of The Star in Singapore designed by Andrew Bloomberg. Courtesy of Aedas.

Floor plan of The Star in Singapore designed by Andrew Bromberg. Courtesy of Andrew Bromberg at Aedas.


ArchiExpo e-Magazine: How can we better tackle the refurbishing of abandoned malls?

“These malls can no longer be purely about profit.”

Andrew Bromberg: I believe it can be done, but I would certainly add elements of surprise to it. I would probably open up the structure to bring in more natural daylight. I may add internal bridges or viewing platforms to take people up higher, create new views. I would ensure that people can feel they could just sit and be. I would think of the ways in which people can re-engage with the city. Although commercial viability is important, these malls can no longer be purely about profitit has to be about building communities, new and old. I would take the same care and attention with a refurb project as I would with a new build.

Exemplifying the New Mall Concept


Beijing shopping center designed by Andrew Broomberg. Courtesy of Andrew Bromberg at Aedas

Beijing shopping center designed by Andrew Bromberg. Courtesy of Andrew Bromberg at Aedas

ArchiExpo e-Magazine: How does your shopping center project The Star respond to this?

“I want people to sense that this is no ordinary place.”

Andrew Bromberg: The Star is about open spaceit is Singapore’s first naturally ventilated shopping mall. At its base, there is a large void containing a semi-outdoor amphitheater. This area of the building is designed to function much like a town square. People are encouraged to walk and explore The Star freely. People can take the escalators up and see new views of the city from higher up via series of ramps and terraces I created for them. I incorporated greenery and water features into the building so that people can be reinvigorated and reconnect with the city they live in. By placing a 5000-seat auditorium at the top rather than tuck it in the basement, I hope to have created a sense of drama. I want people to sense that this is no ordinary place.

The project has become a community focal point for the city since its opening in 2013.

ArchiExpo e-Magazine: And your Beijing shopping center project?

Andrew Bromberg: China World Trade Center Phase 3C Development is about journey. The project has been proposed to unify the retail, commercial and cultural components. As the final piece of the masterplan developed over the years on a prominent site in the business district of Beijing—which contain Beijing’s two tallest towersthe project introduces the idea of ‘Civic Green’ to serve as an anchor and a gateway for the entire complex.

It is envisaged as a cultural catalyst to bring people together from within and beyond China World Trade Center.

My design introduces the idea of a continuous loop to tie together the entire building from the basement to the street level, all the way up to the green rooftop, part of which can be used for sledding during the colder months of the year with the use of artificial snow. Directly beneath the rooftop, an Olympic-sized ice skating rink has been inserted. By creating mixed use centers like this, I hope I can fill this place with people from all walks of life: children, families, teenagers, elderly people, young professionals, and so forth.

The project is now under way.

Beijing shopping center designed by Andrew Broomberg. Courtesy of Aedas.

Beijing shopping center designed by Andrew Bromberg. Courtesy of Andrew Bromberg at Aedas


Mix and Matching: A Mall-Apartment Combo


ArchiExpo e-Magazine: What do you think about mix and matching, creating a mall-apartment combo?

Andrew Bromberg: A shopping mall has a theatrical element. You are there to see and be seen, as well as to consume. It’s all part of the fun. But one might not always want to be performing. Some things just don’t mix well.

In my opinion, this is not necessarily the best combination. People would sometimes prefer peace and quiet. They don’t want to be thinking about shopping 24/7. Although there is an element of pure convenience, as an architect, I think about how to improve people’s lives. In this case, people might be happier if we can keep shopping malls separate from people’s living quarters.


On Board with Going Smart?


ArchiExpo e-Magazine: Where does smart technology come into play?

Andrew Bromberg: For me, smart technology is about using less technology and creating sustainable environment for future generations. We architects can lead on that. The Star, for example, by virtue of being open, induces constant natural breeze through the public spaces, and…

We have managed to reduce the mechanical air conditioning use by 70%.

Natural landscaping in China World Trade Civic Center on the podium terraces and rooftop acts to reduce solar gain by providing shade, absorbing heat, and improving the U-values of slab build-ups, reducing the amount of heat entering the building.


Read this article on bridging the gap between online and offline shopping.


About Andrew Bromberg at Aedas

Andrew Bromberg (b. 1968) is an American architect based in Hong Kong with an extensive portfolio of award-winning projects. In 2002, he joined the international architectural firm Aedas, where he is now Global Board Director leading a design team of 15.

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    Using homegrown materials and sustainable production techniques, a fresh generation of Balkan creators brings design-driven products to a worldwide audience.


    Boasting a strong tradition of hand weaving and woodwork, the Balkan countries saw a decline in their traditional crafts in favor of mass-produced homeware. To allow their cultural heritage to live on, a young generation of local designers is now rethinking everyday objects, incorporating visual aesthetics that appeal to contemporary design aficionados worldwide.

    This has led to the development of various enterprises. Slovenian/Bosnian project Kobeiagi Kilims is already working on its third collection of rugs and pillows, and the more recently emerged Serbian brand Folkk offers carpets, pillows and wooden products.


    A Tale of Revival


    Fascinated by the skills of weavers they met during a trip to central Bosnia, Ivana Blaž and Nina Mršnik, an architect from Bosnia and a designer/illustrator from Slovenia, founded Kobeiagi Kilims in 2014. The two creators seek to open a new chapter in the revival of the Bosnian kilim, a traditional hand-woven wool fabric which can be used as a rug, a blanket or to cover a bed or sofa, as well as to decorate walls and windows.

    Kobeigai Kilims balkans craftmanship design art archiexpo e-magazine

    Courtesy of Kobeigai Kilims

    Mršnik told ArchiExpo e-Magazine that every part of their kilim production process, including sourcing wool and natural dyes, makes them truly local.

    We believe that its high quality, combined with a freshened and unique design, enables the kilim to rise above the huge supply of cheap carpets of mass production.

    Kobeigai Kilims balkans craftmanship design art archiexpo e-magazine

    Courtesy of Kobeigai Kilims

    Two years prior, in 2012, a mix of creatives and businessmen launched the Nova Iskra Design Incubator. This prompted them to create a business venture which would promote local crafts and sustainable practices. Their Folkk brand initiative began in 2016 when, after a contest with twelve design teams, they decided to put forward the work of Tamara Švonja, Studio Antipod and Emir Šehanović.

    “For an artist who is inspired by the local traditions and practices, it was the perfect initiative to be involved in,” artist and designer Šehanović told ArchiExpo e-Magazine.

    This was an opportunity for me to give back and contribute, in my specific way, to the tradition that has given me so much.


    A Modern Twist


    Hand-woven by women in Bosnia, Nina and Ivana’s kilims—such as Stana and Neda, their most popular models—play with shades and patterns inspired by contemporary life and fashionable color palettes and themes. Mršnik said that in the life of a designer:

    There is surely a time when you question making new objects, turning to the past to find fantastic products that already exist but are neglected because they ‘don’t fit’ today’s time period.

    “So, we identified [the kilim] and are working on making it appealing to today’s buyers. The quality of the product remains as it was before we came into the picture,” she continued.

    In line with the connection between ancient craft and modern technology, Emir Šehanović says he blends traditional patterns with a modern ‘glitch’ aesthetic. His five original patterns for Folkk’s rugs and pillow cases also are woven by women in rural communities.

    Examples of Emir Šehanović

    Examples of Emir Šehanović’s modern ‘glitch’ aesthetic

    Emir Šehanović for folkk art craftmanship design

    Emir Šehanović for folkk

    Exploring a different facet of Serbian craftsmanship, designer Švonja rose to the challenge of adapting centuries of traditional woodwork to fit modern living. Handcrafted by local carpenter Milan Blagojević, the Tapa board she designed for Folkk surprises with its contemporary lines.

    Last year His Royal Highness Prince of Wales met with carpenter Milan Blagojević and designer Tamara Švonja.

    Milan Blagojevic. Courtesy of  Follk

    Milan Blagojevic. Courtesy of Follk

    Švonja said that the wood defines beauty on its own, adding:

    Its minimalistic look, simple shape and small details give the product a modern twist.


    A Social and Sustainable Venture


    In combining social enterprise, sustainable production and stunning design, the two ventures have managed not only to preserve centuries-old crafts, but also to empower the local community. They already count customers from all over Europe, as well as Peru, the USA, Canada, Australia and the UAE. Balkan crafts are tastefully making their mark on the design world.

    “Local material and many years of craftsmen’s experience are the most important sustainability points that give Folkk special value. It can be seen in all Folkk products,” explains Tamara Švonja.

    I prefer when sustainability is logically included in the product rather than being forced at all costs.

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    Since 1846, Dutch textile manufacturer Vlisco has exemplified a multicultural melting pot of beauty and craftsmanship with its specially crafted fabrics inspired by Africa, made with a technique derived from Indonesian batik and designed in the Netherlands. To celebrate its 170 years of design, the Museum Helmond showcased an overview of Vlisco’s history in the exhibition Vlisco1:1 Un à Un in the spring of 2017.

    “The exhibition gave an insight to the production process that inspires the designs and vice versa,” Harm Rensink from installation design studio Harm Rensink told ArchiExpo e-Magazine. Upon entering, an installation by artist Daniel de Bruin references the construction of Vlisco factories.

    The production process of the Vlisco textiles is kept secret from the public. The exhibition gave a glimpse into this process, yet still left enough mystery and imagination.”

    Vlisco's history in the exhibition Vlisco1:1 Un à Un in the spring of 2017

    Vlisco’s history in the exhibition Vlisco1:1 Un à Un in the spring of 2017

    Harm Rensink worked with former director of Vlisco, Michiel Schuurman, to create the space like a psychedelic skip through time and visual material.

    “The brand has existed for so many decades, yet is still highly relevant and innovative. The Vlisco archives are huge, filled with untold stories that would make any exhibition designer as enthusiastic as I am.”

    “a gut feel for the future of print design”

    Rensink explained that Schuurman has produced many print designs for Vlisco throughout the years and has “a gut feel for the future of print design.” He believes the combination made for the exhibition is a hint at what’s to come from Vlisco.

    “What I loved about Michiel’s design is the fact that he understood the experience it would create in the museum. The visitors literally stepped into a mind-blowing visual experience telling the Vlisco story.”

    The impact of Vlisco fabrics runs deep. One example is the powerful group of women, Nana Benz, which achieved immense success selling Vlisco fabrics in Togo. They were seen in a five-screen film in the exhibition. Read the story here.

    Video display at Vlisco1:1 Un à Un in the spring of 2017

    Video display at Vlisco1:1 Un à Un in the spring of 2017


    Manon Pierre

    Manon Pierre is a licensed journalist with a sturdy background in art and architecture reporting.

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    Ana Luiza Daltro

    A native of São Paulo, Ana Luiza Daltro is a former economics and business reporter from VEJA magazine who currently writes for three e-magazines within VirtualExpo group.

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    Erin Tallman

    American artist Erin Tallman is a journalist for various online publications and is the Editor in Chief of ArchiExpo e-magazine. She has published three books, including her first novel.

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    Vanessa Liwanag

    Vanessa Liwanag, is an MBA alumni of the prestigious Mod’Art International in Paris and founder of Creative Talents Worldwide.

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    Hilary Edesess

    Hilary Edesess is a freelance journalist based in Marseille, France. She blogs about culture, art and urban design.

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    Alex Ulam

    Alex Ulam is a freelance journalist and design critic based in New York.

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    Erin Gigl

    Erin Gigl is a freelance design and travel writer, editor and artist.

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