While retail is taking hit due to the financial downturn and competition from online shopping, there is one sector that is proving to be extremely popular: food retail.
Due perhaps in large part to the current ‘foodie’ trend, spurred on by television shows like Iron Chef, Master Chef and the Naked Chef, there is a growing sector not simply interested in buying mundane groceries, but is also looking to high-end food supplies and food court dining.
This need is being catered to by the food retail sector, with interior designers finding the mix of design and food a highly palatable recipe for success.
Taking home top honours in Retail Design at the 2012 Australian Interior Design Awards is the Canadian food retailer fitout for Loblaws Maple Leaf Gardens by design practice Landini Associates.
Jurors say the project, and the barrage of developments seen this year in the same vein signal ‘a resurgence of interest in food and design, particularly within food courts.’
The winning project, Maple Leaf Gardens market by Landini Associates, features an interior of complexity and richness; a market without the mess, say the jurors.
“The food produce on offer is the hero of the space and enables customers to communicate with food providers and producers, which is an essential part of an intelligent and meaningful shopping experience,” they say.
The design, with its open plan layout and low customer/employee separating benches, maximise what makes food shopping stand a part from other retail sectors – the human experience. When we buy food from a deli or specialist grocer, communication about the products is encouraged and product samples are offered, turning a mundane shopping trip into a food experience.
“Signage, colour and texture are used with control and deliberate intent. This is a massive, beautiful marketplace,” say the jurors. “The designers are to be congratulated on what they have achieved in North America and are encouraged to undertake similar projects in Australia.”
Designers The Uncarved Block are taking on that challenge in Australia, receiving a commendation at the aforementioned interior design awards for their development of the Galeries Victoria food courts in Melbourne Central.
Jumping on this high-end foodie trend, the designers took the drab out of food-court design and instead created a boutique food-court environment. This includes the use of bespoke design elements and a natural, warm colour palette and beautiful mosaic art installations. The designers encourage communication through the implementation of long bench tables, creating a space to share.
The design offers everyone from all different demographics a chance to share in the boutique food experience.
Perhaps that is the strong appeal of food retail and why designers are finding so much success working in this sector: food is non-discriminatory. It appeals to everyone, everywhere, at any time. The joy of the dining experience should not be limited to only those who can afford it and industry members willing to offer that experience to the masses are reaping the rewards.