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A M a s t e r ’s i n

DESIGN Communications





WHY THIS PROJECT? Being a designer, I aim to provide new and engaging creative solutions to existing problems within society. I chose the topic of ‘Gender Inclusive Retail Design’ as I know there is a niche in the market for more stimulating retail environments for all us spenders, but more particularly, for men. It’s a known fact that men hate shopping and I feel that retailers are loosing out on much business because of this. The emerging threat of online shopping is challenging retailers and attracting many male ‘shopping haters.’ Most men only shop when they have to, unlike women. Why is this? I have conducted suffiicient research to prove that a more visually stimulating and interactive environment can keep a man’s brain active for longer. A successful retail design solution incorporating all my proven research could lead to an increase in male shoppers and hence more income for retail outlets. I believe my topic is a valid project as it; solves a problem, creates happiness, is new, follows a plan and is of personal interest to myself.

RESEARCH: I carried out an abundance of research on the whole topic of consumer culture. However the answer to the question as to why men don’t like shopping as much as women is quite simple. It’s a gender problem. Men and women act differently because we are different. The male and female brains are both very individual and behave in seperate ways. A male’s brain requires more visual stimulation to stay active, whilst a women’s brain reacts better to touching and communicating. ‘ Men tend to process better in the left hemisphere of the brain while women tend to process equally well between the two hemispheres. The difference explains why men are generally stronger with left brain activities and apporaoch problem solving from a task oriented perspective while women typically solve problems creatively and are more aware of feelings while communicating.’ (Hensley, 2009) This perfectly explains how us females love browsing through shops and why men don’t. It’s basically science. I can’t change the way a male’s brain works.... but I can change the shopping experience to make it more gender friendly, appealing and accomodating to both sexes. Please refer to www.mariamccabe. to view the questionnaire results and other research in detail.


Pompei AD is a multi-disciplinary design company based in New York. Its founder Ron Pompei uses his own innovative C3 approach to dissect and re-design a retail environment. C3 stands for Commerce, Culture and Community. Commerce and culture represent the home and work. When commerce and culture interplay, a community is created where people meet to socialize, spend money, relax and learn. Pompei AD has worked on succesful outlet designs for brands such as Urban-Outfitters, MTV and Anthropologie.

BANKSY Banksy’s ‘out-there’ avant-garde approach to graffiti has become known worldwide. He challenged people’s mindsets with his social and political messages. Although he is a graffiti artist and not 100% relevant to my area of study, I still admire his work and style of communication. “I’m always trying to move on. You’re not supposed to get dumber as you get older. You’re not supposed to just do the same old thing. You’re supposed to find a new way through and carry on.” (Banksy, 2006)

THE COMMISSIONER: > New or existing retail outlets seeking to set themselves apart in the commercial environment. > Shopping centres. > Department stores. Any of the above could be valid candidates for my project. I have chosen to aim my project at perhaps a new business, or an existing busniess that sells unique and trendy products for both males and females. I remember one answer I recieved from my questionnaires. I had asked about retail design and its effect on consumers. The female who answered the question agreed that the design of a store does affect consumers, but she also emphasised that it too depended on what the shop sold. I again learned from my questionnaires that the most popular stores amongst 18 - 30 males and females were stores like Urban Outfitters and Topshop; who both sell successful products and are slowly bridging the gender gap with their store designs. A combined strength in the products / services along with the design of the business outlet is crucial in the overall success of the brand. I will therefore be exploring new or existing innovative businesses to design for.

THE USER: As my project will be a design solution for a public shopping area, anyone can avail of it. However I want to target the 18 - 30 male/female market. I plan to be gender inclusive when it comes to the design. However, most women already enjoy shopping so the main challenge of my project is to create solutions that will impress and attract the male shopper. I want the users to relate and be informed by my retail design solutions. If I can correspond successfully to the male user’s need then he will more likely become a regular customer to the store.

It’s no massive surprise that gay men or metrosexuals relate more to women when it comes to spending. With this changing 21st century world, comprising of variations of sexualities, personalities and cultures, I plan to design a retail experience that represents futurism and progression.

MEDIUM OF COMMUNICATION: I consider design for the retail environment as Experience Design. We live out an experience obviously enough through our senses. We see, we hear, we feel, we taste and we smell. I want to focus on the idea of creating more stimulating design for these senses. Theme parks invest millions in providing multi-sensory simulation rides and extravaganzas. 3D movies are taking over the world and the Nintendo WII has figured out how to get girls passionate about gaming. I plan to explore and research design for all the 5 senses and develop the successful ideas. > Visual Design: How can I make signage, print adds, anything you see more... more visually intricate? > Sound Design: Can music and sound have an emotional impact on customers? > Interactive Design: Could the experience be improved if you interact with your surroundings? > Design for smell / taste: We usually associate smell and taste with the likes of perfumes, flowers or food. But are we undermining the abilities of these senses?




Master's Proposal notes  

Briefy summary of my masters project and its aims.

Master's Proposal notes  

Briefy summary of my masters project and its aims.