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Reimagining retail for anti-mall explorers

Unlike many of my fellow countrymen, I’ve never really been one to enjoy malling. Our relationship was largely transactional at best – a place to run errands, grab a bite to eat, or catch a movie. Yes, I have hung out at the mall with my friends, but only because back then there simply was nowhere else to go. I remember that as teenagers we even made an ‘anti-mall’ pact, promising that we would hang out anywhere else but there. It’s not that I don’t enjoy shopping or browsing, but I hate doing it within the confines of a big, stuffy box.

But what if the ‘malling’ experience could break out of that multi-storeyed box?

Given my life-long indifference to malls, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed loitering around the Central Embassy mall’s top floor. Dubbed the ‘Open House’, it’s an open-floor concept designed to ‘blend general lifestyles with specific needs.’ After all, it’s one big book store, high-end food court, playpen and craft store, all mixed together to create a uniquely relaxing and casual atmosphere.

I loved it because it was fun to explore, without any of the pressure that comes with stepping into a store or restaurant. Even if you’re “just browsing”, there’s enough interesting elements to keep you occupied – from the creative design, the yet-to-be-discovered band playing in the background or the dizzying array of books to read.

You might be familiar with this ‘blending’ concept in the form of co-working spaces that blur the line between work/life/play, creating holistic lifestyle spaces and communities. Open House is an evolution of that trend, only this time, it’s for the retail and F&B industry. At its heart, it utilizes multi-functional design to create a dynamic space so there’s a little something for everyone – even a decidedly mall-averse customer like me.

Trend: Multi-functional / multi-use spaces

Spotted at: Open House, Central Embassy Mall, Bangkok

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