We have been conditioned to think that commercial space needs to be flawless, finished.

A 3D version of the ad, the business card, the product.

A seamless extension of the brand.

I’d acknowledge the need for synergy in the customers eyes for sure.

I’m reading plenty about how retailers are pouring resource into their supply chains to ensure a seamless experience from web to physical store which for most is still not the case.

That’s a big and very difficult task, but its certainly a tried and tested way to win the hearts and minds of many customers.

The new Amazon store in New York is an interesting move.

They finally admit that people still want a physical connection.

Its recognition that a space has other human aspects which go beyond the brochure or the web experience.

I’m thinking of the impromptu, the local, the character that a proprietor or owner brings (or well trained and passionate people who are rewarded for their efforts).

A change from the norm. Individuality and identity.

For instance, I’m sure that the success of the coffee shop format is more than just the craving for caffeine. It also has to do with the need to dwell a while within the wider context of a busy city or day. It provides a little slice of the more domestic in the commercial world. A rest from the high street. A change of pace.

Also, whether intentional or not, the greatest achievement of the Apple Store is not how it looks, but how it brings people together through great service. Here geek’s rub shoulders with grandad’s. Both are comfortable. The customer has a new expectation of what service means.

We miss the point when we create a shiny box for a product or a service without considering those basic human desires for interaction, rest, inspiration, amusement, stimulation.

I’m guessing that’s why we hear so much about future retail needing to be all about ‘experience’.

We see a lot of scrambling around for relevancy right now, especially from high street retailers.

Spaces are about people, and always should have been. Somewhere along the way we got a bit lost and I’ll take some of the responsibility for that in my past.

Many spaces for selling, for work and for delivering a service are hard to love. Buying via the web, working from home and digital conferencing mean some of us are finding ways not to have to put up with these spaces any more.

If your business model was about multiple shiny boxes, you can’t change that model overnight, and it probably wasn’t developed with people at the centre of it.

And then the customer and the market changed.

Some of them want more now.

That space that you create. Its for people.

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