arc April/May 2018 - Issue 103

Page 72

Let’s go to the Mall Neil Knowles, Director of Elektra Lighting Design, examines the shopping centre experience, questioning what goes into this often under designed area of retail lighting.


n this article I want to focus on an often underlooked and certainly often under designed

area of retail lighting – the shopping centre

experience. For many, retail lighting starts and stops at the front door to the unit. But what gets people to the unit in the first place? I can remember as a child being driven

to Oxford Street to see the Christmas lights. The street was lit

with lasers and (ahem) a few years later I can still remember the

excitement. This was the first time lasers had been seen in public and it drew crowds to the area. Afterwards we went to a café for

something over-processed and sugary. If you think about it, this is what good Mall lighting design will do – increase footfall, increase

dwell time, increase spend. Getting people in the door, getting them to stay.

Lighting design is of course a subset of shopping centre design,

but arguably the one that will create mood the most, that can add

the critical components and touches but that can also have people walking out if you don’t get right – without them knowing why. We’ve worked on several shopping centre projects recently for

companies such as Capital and Regional. Their Director of Projects, Joe Swindells, says that lighting “subtly creates a mood and sense of theatre that enhances the guests’ journey and experience”.

Whenever he needs a centre to be repositioned or enhanced to attract a new market, or to improve the offering, he will look at the lighting

as a matter of importance. Increasingly, shopping centre design is all about the story. It is about people and how people make it into their story, how you relate to it and how you make the space your space. It’s often not a requirement to increase or improve lighting

levels or energy efficiency. Clearly, given the advances in recent lighting technology we are usually able to reduce the lighting

power consumption – often down to a third of its previous level. However the driver is more often to increase footfall or change

market segmentation, with lower costs a side benefit. This drive

to reposition the centre is a result of the large changes that have

occurred in the last 20 years, which has left a lot of centres behind.

For example, shopping centre interiors are not a homogenous space any more. They are increasingly subdivided into separate areas, and need different lighting solutions. Some areas might be for top end fashion, whilst the lower level might be where all the children’s

shops are. Lighting cannot be a standard solution across the entire

space – in the fashion area it might be warmer, less uniform and with more decorative touches. In the children’s area it could be brighter, playful, more primary, more uniformity.

Secondly the food offering is changing. Jonathon Doughty of ECE

Shopping Centres in Germany estimates that if you create a food hall that is a destination, where people actually want to come to dine, it increases footfall to the shops by around 30%. As a result many

shopping centres are looking to create this kind of dining experience. Add this to the current trend in hospitality – authenticity – and it is clear that a collection of fast food outlets in Formica does not cut it

anymore. Lighting needs to adapt to this brave new world. In many senses the food mall area should be a restaurant not a retail outlet Neil Knowles, Director at Elektra Lighting Design


and the lighting has many differences:

Colour temperature – malls are typically 3000-4000K, whereas