SENSE OF PLACE DESIGN AT TAIPEI’S TAOYUAN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Following the launch of the impressive new Ever Rich retail space at Taoyuan International Airport, The Design Solution’s Nick Taylor explains how commercial planning and design are driving the new customer experience and creating a unique sense of Taiwan across the radically updated main store.
Working in close co-operation with the airport’s operator, Taoyuan International Airport Co Ltd, and government departments, the Ever Rich development at Taoyuan’s Terminal 2 expresses an innovative multi-sensory experience that blends leading-edge digital technology with ancient cultural elements.
The design strategy used at Taoyuan and emphasises the key need to create an instantly eye-catching retail presence. Indeed, Ever Rich were determined to be authentic, consistent and comprehensive in reaching the traveller through the five senses across the whole store experience. The vital first challenge was to engage them visually.
From our bird’s eye visual of the store layout, you can readily see how the flow is designed to actively draw passengers as they leave the security area and into the store.
The key was to entice them with stunning, high-scale visibility that aims to capture their interest at that key psychological moment as the relative stress of the check-in and security gives way to a feeling of freedom and exploration.
By sharing such immediate and impactful category and brand visibility we aim to engage with them from a distance, thereby taking other dwell time activities and rival retail options out of the equation!
This is particularly important at this store due the ‘walk-by’ layout of the terminal space whereby passengers enter the retail area from a central point, with the option to step towards the Ever Rich store located to their right or rival retail options to their left.
Within the store, each product category shares its own unique story but they are held together by the over-arching design concept, which blends the theme of dynamic modern Taiwan with beautiful expressions of ancient local culture, from the energetic fun of neon slogans in the ceilings to exquisite artwork and stunning large-scale visuals by local artists.
The Hennessy bar, for example, offers a luxury encounter styled in rich copper tones but also adds contemporary humour through the vivid neon signage above it.
We wanted the design concept to reflect the comfortable co-existence between the vibrancy and fast pace of Taipei – with its fusion of cultures – and this green and uniquely mountainous island. This can especially be seen in the digital ‘living walls’ together with vibrant neon-effect signage and a layer of digital communication throughout the store.
Once enticed in by the colourful visual promise of the store, shoppers are engaged by the multi-sensory energy of the space, including an integrated sound system and a scent delivery mechanism which, when combined together, deliver an intriguing and memorable experience for the shopper.
Across the store (and the second-floor F&B space) there are many experiential options – from cocktails and digital makeovers to authentic local F&B and cultural encounters – thus developing a multi-sensory experience that helps form an emotional connection with the shopper.
We fused together the feeling of welcoming and spatial openness at the front of the store with organic lines in the ceilings, open pathways and strategically positioned furniture to help flow passengers seamlessly through the space, where materials and lighting enhance the ambience and unique personality expressed within each of the product categories.
It was crucial that the overall design complements rather than dominates the brands and the product presentations, thereby placing stronger focus on them and delivering the passenger with an engaging, stimulating and, above all, a uniquely Taiwanese experience.
Looking at the industry-wide issue of Sense of Place, I would also add that Ever Rich and Taoyuan International Airport clearly understand the need for that sense of location to be shared throughout the whole airport and not solely within the retail experience.
Across Taoyuan Airport, Ever Rich have a long history of celebrating the beauty of Taiwan with the world and you can see this in everything from the (newly updated) locally-themed designs of the lounges to the products from local farmers and artisans in the stores.
They also appreciate that customers’ perception of service quality – not just within the stores but across the airport – are a vital contributor to the airport’s Sense of Place.
All too often in the airport industry it is the retail space that seems to be assigned almost sole responsibility for transmitting a Sense of Place but, to be fully effective, that local spirit needs embedding throughout the passenger journey.
The commercial reality is that sharing an authentic local spirit across the whole airport not only provides a unique experience and enhances the passenger perceptions of customer service, it actually helps drive non-aeronautical revenue.
Ever Rich is a wonderful example of that strategy in action, demonstrating that their emphasis on the five senses also expresses a powerful commercial sense.