In this episode:

Wendy Liebmann talks to Dawn Clark, Executive Creative Director, SVP, Global Design Studio for Starbucks, noted retail architect, who runs Osean Studios, and was most recently director of design and construction for Amazon, where she led the design of the new Amazon Style concept store, and prior to that Nordstrom.

They discuss:

  • How to create a “human” store, and how that has changed since Covid
  • Why many retail environments are designed to showcase products rather than create an emotional connection with shoppers
  • Why it’s so critical to understand the context of the shopper’s life not just what you want to sell
  • The interweaving and translation of technology in physical spaces, where search tools and algorithms can add value to an in-store shopping experience but where flashing digital screens often do not
  • How to bring together the right team – architects, construction, technology, merchants, marketers, sales personnel – to create innovative, shopper-lead environments
  • And why one-eighth of an inch really matters

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Watch the video episode:

Wendy 00:09

Hello, everyone. I'm Wendy Liebmann CEO and chief shopper at WSL Strategic Retail and this is Future Shop. This is where I talk to innovators disruptors and iconoclasts, about the future of retail. My guest today is Dawn Clark. Dawn is a highly regarded architect. She's worked all around the world with iconic brands, including high-end luxury retailers like Harrods and Saks Fifth Avenue and Harvey Nichols. She's worked in the US in terms of Nordstrom, she's worked in big box mass everywhere on every street corner retailers like Starbucks. And most recently, she was Director of Design and Construction for Amazon, where she led the whole store design of the new concept called Amazon Style Store. And she'll tell us a bit about that in a minute. Prior to all of that, as I said, Dawn was at Nordstrom, where she was in charge of redesigning the flagship propositions at Nordstrom, including their brand new store on 57th Street in New York City, which many of us still idolize, and then Starbucks. So not just high end luxury, but street corners, coffee and 60 countries around the world. So with all that experience, if anyone can tell us about the future of retail, it's Dawn Clark. Welcome, Dawn.

Dawn 01:44

Thank you, Wendy, it's such a pleasure to chat with you. Thanks for inviting me on your podcast,

Wendy 01:50

always a pleasure to see you in person or virtually. Thank you. You know, we have that sort of moment of history between us many, of course, because we've known each other for some time. But stepping back to December of 2019, just before the world shut down, you joined us on our Big Business of Well symposium that we did downtown in the World Financial Center. And it was just after you had opened Nordstroms flagship on 57th Street, and you talked at that moment about creating a human store. Let's hear what you said.

Dawn [ Clip ]

You know, I think my job is to design environments for humans. And all of our customers are humans, they have that in common. They might be animals underneath, but they're humans. And there are sort of some universal things that we need to feel good. And to even feel like we look good. And it's not always so much what you're putting on top that's most important, but how you feel. And so we think about things like breathing. And these are the things you don't see. So when you go, you know, retail spaces are inherently quite full of particulates. And if you're not properly scrubbing the air, people can't breathe well. And when people can't breathe clean air, they do not feel well say that you have to think about the dark side of things. Like there's just talking about air or light and our job as architects is to help people get exposure to daylight, for a couple of reasons. And it also is a great retail strategy, because we actually know people buy more stuff when they're in daylight than otherwise. But also people feel better. People know what time of day it is, they know where they are, is orienting. If we don't get enough exposure to light none of us do. We're sitting in rooms like this all day. None of us are outside anymore. That's what our brains are designed to do. Our eyes actually aren't just for seeing there's a circadian cycle that is triggered by the amount of light exposure we get. And when we don't get that we don't sleep well, which is why people take melatonin, but we just got daylight we wouldn't have that problem.


So, you know, when you think about that, you talked about a store that was both filled with light, spacious and also had that sense of airiness and clean air that was way before the pandemic. Well, not so way, but way enough. How has your consideration of a human store changed over these last three years? How do you think about that now when you pick up a pen to design an amazing space?

Dawn 02:56

Well, thanks. That's a great reminder. And it feels like a time warp for one thing, right? It's the strangest three years, we could have not predicted. We've learned a lot, but so much changed in those three years. And it was a big turning point for me to, moving from Nordstrom to Amazon. And before we knew any of that was happening. I think your symposium really was about wellness more broadly, if I recall, right. And I have often thought about retail experiences in terms of wellness, and these human factors, which those have not changed, maybe how we think about them has changed a bit. But these are universal factors that really don't change. You know, we've had 80 million years to develop our sensory set of capabilities. And these are things that we all share as a species. These are things about how we experience the shift in light from dawn to dusk, the time of the season by the angle of the sun, how we feel when we breathe fresh clean air. Now, especially in the midst of an urban environment, where there are many particulates in the air. There are more and more studies related to biophilic design which just to define that a little bit, environments that support the deep inner relationship between human beings and the natural environment, about how biophilic design can make people feel well inside built spaces. Also a deeper understanding of how circadian rhythms relate to our experience of our environments. Now that may be seems unrelated to retail, but I find it extremely related. That when we know that these factors in environments translate directly into how you feel, I mean, what is your heart rate your blood pressure how you feel safe, how you feel comfortable, how you're anxious or stressed or not stressed, and how that translates into your sense of confidence and your exploratory mindset in a shopping environment that is, you know, so full of inputs, and so many things that can be very overwhelming. So I think traditionally, many of these aspects of designing a store, or really any place meant for humans, is often literally kind of overlooked, and at least unseen. These are things like the fine textures that you can touch the sound curves, eyes of your skin, how do they experience the space? So how does that put you at ease and make you feel good and well, or the opposite, like when the lighting is glaring, and the sound hits the top of your head and gives you a headache, and instead of your chest where you know, you get excited, or the air again, gives you fog in your brain.

Wendy 06:30

You know what you reminded me of there. And it's always when you and I have a conversation is that I think as a shopper, and all the work we do around people shopping and their emotional connection to places we talk about loyalty, we talk about trust, we talk about efficiency, most of the everyday stores, and I'll step back because this is probably I'm probably gonna diss a lot of people feels like they're often designed more for the exposure of product than they are for the connection of me to this brand. I mean, it's one thing when I think about a Nordstrom or a Selfridges or even a Nike store that you've had some role in designing over time. But that notion of walking into a drugstore or supermarket or a mass merchandiser, or whatever, it feels a lot like it's efficiency and end caps, and stocking things high, am I being really rude when I think about who the heck designed those places? And were they really thinking about human?

Dawn 07:31

No, I think that is the point. You can't step over these emotional factors. Because in the end, it's this emotional experience that is going to create a connection between whatever brand you are and what you're trying to sell, which we know like we just have too many choices. And there's so many products. And you have to do something more than that.

Wendy 07:54

Yeah, as you were talking, I was thinking about when you talked about circadian rhythms. And I was thinking about so that you and I don't get to airy fairy, which we love to do together. But I was also thinking about in the convenience store industry, we talk about day parts, we actually talk about day parts, you know, what do people want at that time of day? I don't think 7/11 or WAWA changes the light?

Dawn 08:17

Well, we certainly did at Starbucks. I mean, that day part is a major factor. And it's also different in different countries. So like cafe culture, well, cafe culture in China versus Brazil versus Spain, versus the US, the US is completely caffeinated in the morning. But cafe culture really originally started as an evening thing about gathering and socialization. And you know, it's very true, I think, more so with my experiences in Asia with shopping being more of an entertainment-oriented time, which is an evening, your related social event, versus a morning, go out and get your errands done kind of event.

Wendy 09:03

Yeah, I do recall with Starbucks, particularly in the early days. I love the different the changing music. selection that you hear if you went in in the morning versus, you know, in the afternoon, and, and that

Dawn 09:16

tuning the light to which is something you might not notice even as much or allowing natural daylight, which of course, is the simplest way if you can, but you can't always do that to our rhythms.

Wendy 09:28

Yeah, you've already sparked all these things in my head. So that that notion, you've talked about the sort of global culture of whether it's coffee or anything else, and how we think about the sort of human condition and connection to these places that we spend our money and time I mean that transition from going to Nordstrom and the 57th Street store with a beautifully curved and lighted facade and then the space and the light, which is really quite extraordinary to going to creating a new concept for Amazon, with the Style Store, talk a bit about that concept and the transition to create that. For those of you who might have seen it, we featured the store in that one of our Retail Safari®. So you can click on to our website and take a look at that. But for Dawn, for those who haven't talked a little bit about that

Dawn 10:19

first, first of all, for me personally, the experience of developing a store that is so highly interwoven with technology is 100% different process. So it was a real education for me. But at the same time, I found my other human factors were equally as relevant, even maybe more so in this sort of interweaving and translation between technology and physical experience at the same time. So let me step back for a second and say Amazon Style, was envisioned to be really the first Amazon store concept for men's women's and kids’ clothing. And we worked extremely hard to bring the sort of best store we could imagine to life that included the development of digital tools in parallel to this physical store design that would enable key experiences to improve them and to get after pain points, you know, that exist in this experience of shopping for clothing, both, I mean, I think really focusing on those sort of two key experiences. One is browsing and discovery. And the other is this fitting room experience, which is incredibly intimate and personal and challenging for many, many people. And, you know, finding clothing the fits is a major issue around fashion. And so that was really what we set out to go after. And we've created an in-store shopping app that is like a companion to your shopping experience. So it enables you to browse and select your preferred styles and then action them from there, whether you want to just buy them online and send them home or have them delivered to your fitting room or just pick them up and take them home with you. Now that you've touched it, maybe you don't need to try it on or you've seen the fabrication or the color, you've seen that live, maybe you're in a hurry. So there's like three different ways to sort of have that experience. And then if you choose to get into one of these really enabled styling rooms, the experience is really, really differentiated. Because we created a way to magically have whatever you wanted, that you could select from this interactive screen, continue to flow through your closet, from the backside. And also it was enabled with search tools and algorithms that would allow it to serve up more suggestions to you. So you were kind of getting some of those benefits of an online shopping experience, but live where you could have those physical things brought to you and tried on. That was sort of the fundamental goal that we set out to achieve.

Wendy 13:07

And when you think about that, I remember you know, that was sort of it was on the one hand it sort of for everybody, you can click later and look at the examples but in the photos, but this sort of sense of the showroom. And you can see outfits merchandise together on mannequins, as you might see in a department store or any other space. And then the ability to shop pretty much any way you wanted, right? Like you used to do in the bookstore, Amazon Books, you can click and have the book sent home immediately, as well as pick it up at the checkout or whatever. So it felt like there was a lot of learning from all these different iterations of what Amazon had been experimenting or rolling out Go ,Fresh, Books, 4 Star, even Whole Foods, that mixture of places the way people would shop. Was that something that you sort of sat down and said, What do we know from here? Or was there another beginning to the journey?

Dawn 14:01

Well, certainly I think there was some learning inside the company but it was also really starting from scratch going after this the specific needs of this particular type of experience which shopping for clothing is very, very different. So you brought up visual merchandising for one like that is such a critical component of how you find how you browse how you discover, and it's something that has been extremely difficult to solve online. Online shopping is great when you know what you want. But this discovery aspect is extremely difficult. So how do you kind of get the best of those worlds because the other thing I think we all miss now when we go at least I know customer reviews are so important to me now. Like there's so much you can learn about a product if you have customer review information. So being able to like be able to have that information live on a product while you're with it, and you're making your shopping your purchase decision is really important. So you know, I think like, convenience retail, that's a very different thing, “just walk out” technology was enabling something that was really very much about like this is going to be like an every day in and out. And how do we make that easier? How do we solve that pain point of not standing in a queue? So, you know, I think we were after some different challenges, but the methodology of development, as I said, I think it's incredibly complex, you really have to partner with very, very different expertise, the development timeline on technology, and keeping it interwoven with the actual physical customer experience, because you know, plenty of people have designed websites and great UIs and interfaces, but not while the customer is standing in a store, also physically shopping, that I think was really the crux of something that was very new to take on and try to solve. So we learned a lot, we are just really at the beginning of what's possible there. And there's still so much to learn. And the pandemic was interesting, because we were developing all of this like right through the eye of the needle of the pandemic, and people's shopping habits were changing so much. And like QR codes, nobody really knew what they

Wendy 16:27

were before. Well, maybe long way before.

Dawn 16:31

Yeah. And we were like, how are we going to get people to understand how to use a QR code? And yeah, by the time we opened, it was like, who doesn't know how to use a QR code? Like, it's not even an issue. And so there were some things like that, that were good. There were others that were just challenging, being physically distant, and trying to learn how people are going to respond to these extremely new experiences. And what's good, what did we not consider. So it was a big, big learning journey. And I also was involved, like, my team was a fully integrated design team. So I had design technology, UX, design, brand design, store design, all the development and the construction all together, which was quite amazing, because we had UX designers who had never done anything in a physical space and physical designers who didn't have experience with UX design, getting together in a lab and saying, You're not sitting at a desktop here, you can't design these interfaces, as if somebody's just staring at a screen. That's not the physical reality of this experience. So really, really amazing experience.

Wendy 17:38

That's really interesting to me, as well, because we've been spending some time lately with some of our retail clients, as they created some new formats and new concepts. And one of the things I've noticed a lot is in some of these, you know, all of a sudden,they say digital, or they say some kind of retail media, which is, of course, the big deal at the moment. So you could have everything from walking down an aisle with just tons of screens flashing at you with either messages or imagery or something. And you think, what is this for? What value does it was for me as a shopper? And is this just to say, Oh, we are a digital omni channel retailer.

Dawn 18:17

That was one of the things I wanted to talk about is don't confuse like functional technology to enable shopping with advertising gone wild? And how do you judge when enough is enough? And or it's too much?

Wendy 18:36

And how do we do that? What is the big thought? Yeah, or small thought?

Dawn 18:41

Well, I can tell you having done many, many experiments on things like this, I've watched, you know, well, you know, we want to convey a certain message. And it might not even be marketing, it might be an educational point. And we put a giant screen at the front of the store. And we have people come in, and we ask them at the end. And they're like what screen, I didn't see any screen. Like they walk right by it because they're walking into a store in what's your brain doing when you enter? It's like taking in this whole environment and you breathe. Here's where human factors like you're breathing, you're listening, you're seeing people you're looking at all this array of things and you are not, the last thing you are going to look at is a screen, last thing or a marketing banner. And so I just I feel like it's a constant push and pull really, with, you know, how much is effective and then how much is too much. Marketing is necessary and I'm I don't debate that, but when is it too much? That should be part of the conversation.

Wendy 19:48

When you talked about the model or the team that worked on Amazon Style with you that notion of bringing everybody in the room together. It feels to me like you even in a sort of a big box or a mass chain, or any kind of format, do we ever bring everybody together?

Dawn 20:07

It's so hard, you know, when the companies are large, and you have large functional silos, that becomes incredibly difficult. In a startup team model, you are all together, and there's no instituted siloing. And so, naturally, I think it evolves to that. And so it's something you have to work against. On the behalf of the customer. Like, really, you have to stay focused on that.

Wendy 20:35

Right? Well, everybody is going to be nodding, who's listening to this and saying, now Wendy's going to say, is the shopper in the room? Yeah, did you follow the shopper to see the future? Which is because everybody can do that drum roll by now listen to me. But it is really, it is really true. Right. And I do think the other thing I think a lot about on our manufacturer or client base, when they're designing product, you know, certainly the packaging, is it readable? They certainly will look at it, what does it look like on the shelf? Do I get enough space, messaging, will they be seen, but it's almost today that you also want, you know, the store design, the shelf design that I mean, I think you made the point earlier, there are so many places people can shop. And that ability then to think about the shopper in the center, the product that's being delivered up, all the touch points in this physical or digital space, now feels to me and I'm naive about this, that it's even more important than it ever was when we basically had the grocer and the pharmacy, and maybe the dress shop, things like that.

Dawn 21:45

Well, we certainly didn't have as many choices. And, yes, 100%, it's more important. It's all more important. You're right,

Wendy 21:54

you have a really unique purview, because yes, you've designed high end luxury stores, and experiences. But you've also done, you know, Starbucks, which for some countries is a luxury experience, but it is on lots of street corners and all of that. How did those both those experiences, high low, inform how we need to think about designing these retail spaces today?

Dawn 22:21

Yeah, you know, it's interesting, I wasn't thinking of it so much as is high low. But again, I think some of that does tend to come out in the space, I say like, so one thing you can convey really quickly, is with the simply adding more space between things is a sense of luxury. Space is luxury, I think of that way. So whereas something that's more accessible tends to be like, much more packed in, like, so there's this big difference actually, in how you utilize space that comes with luxury, I think it's really a gift. I mean, it is a luxury to have space, to allow your creative brain to explore. And, you know, I think, again, that's a big part of the luxury experience. But I also again, think that there's very big cultural differences between, you know, and especially having worked with like, kind of localized flagship stores like Sebu or Harrods, really, versus a global brand like Starbucks, where I think in both cases, you're really focusing in and understanding in depth, like, what are the key kind of human factors. But one thing I wanted to talk about, and it relates to your last comments, too, is context is everything. And I say William Kleinsasser who was one of my professors in architecture school, that was his school, he wrote all about contextualism. And I have never forgotten but like, don't forget the context. So I'm, I'm gonna, I'm just gonna go to like a digital screen in shopping space is not the same screen, because the context is different. So what context is your human in? Where are they coming from? And that could be even something like, what's their playing field to? Like that particular set of people that you want to as your customers? Also, where do they go? What's their lifestyle, what's their playing field, you better be aware of what they're doing and their lifestyle. If you're not you will be left behind. I just continue to say it's in especially like in these past three years, people's lives have changed so radically, so a lot of barriers. Like here's a good example, would you buy produce online before the pandemic? Did you do it during the pandemic, or clothing for that matter? We probably bought a lot of things that we never would have. Now, did that change how you think about it now that you can have a choice? It probably did because now you just have a wider subset, a wider field you You have a wider playing field, you have more choices. I also tend to think of these debates around like high versus low or brand versus place. It isn't versus, you know, it's always yes, both. It's both. And people do both. And the same person does both. And I'm also shopping missions is another thing. They're not peer, like I might be going in because I know what I want. But I am totally open to discover something, I didn't have any idea I need it. So you can't sort of narrow people experiences too much. There's there's a broader context, there's all of my referential experiences in the back of my head when I come into your space, what have I already experienced?

Wendy 25:43

Yeah. And as you say that I'm struck by several things. One is, and this is a very old example, but relevant, because you're at Starbucks for some time, when we used to have our office in Chelsea, there was a Starbucks on the corner, and you would go into that Starbucks, and you know, your three o'clock in the afternoon, you'd hear Ray Charles, you know, very Zen-y kind of cool, you'd stand in line for maybe three minutes, but the sound the smell of the coffee, there was a, I think, at the time there was a velvet couch or something. And you are in that moment, and maybe you were there for three minutes, maybe five, and then you'd walk out and you'd go into the drugstore on the next corner, and there was nobody there. And you go to the pharmacist and you'd say to the pharmacist, here's my prescription. And he she would say to you, Okay, that'll be 20 minutes. And you go, Whoa, exactly context, right, and

Dawn 26:38

the right context. So I know like, you know, if I can have it delivered to my doorstep in less than 24 hours, why should I come to your place to pick it up? Like I can probably have that done sooner. So I mean, that's obviously these are radical shifts in the way shopping fulfillment can be had.

Wendy 26:57

But that whole conversation that we talked about, you talked about, you know, why am I here could be the same me but it's a different moment. I've got children with me, I've got a cart. I'm up and down the aisles. I've got a long list of things, what’s for dinner tonight. All of that versus okay, I ordered online, picked up in the store. And then we see in our How America Shops® research, 25% of those people park the car and go into the store after they've done their essential shopping. Why did they do it? Well, some of them forget something. Oh, I forgot it. Now I gotta go inside. Or now I've got that off my list. I now actually have time to browse for children's, lipstick, you know, whatever, fill in the blanks, and that experience. And then what should that store look like? Then what should that whole trip look like? Because it's not just sort of one trip, but there are many tenants to it. So all of those things you're talking about have real relevance, particularly now, when so many people shop in so many places. So often.

Dawn 27:58

I think it's dangerous to just focus on what you're trying to sell. If you are not taking these factors seriously, you're at risk, because someone else is. And it's important.

Wendy 28:09

Yeah. So of the someone else's who might be there. Some you look

Dawn 28:14

to all the leading retailers, right, like the people who get it. You know, I think when you walk into a store, and you do this, this is what you do Wendy, is there's somebody care, did somebody show up and organize things are the people well trained are. I mean, I hate to say it too, and I don't mean to be unkind. But oftentimes, these basics are just not in place. And it's hard retail operations. It's every day, and visual merchandising definitely one of my more favorite topics, but like, it is probably your biggest selling tool, other than your employees in space for almost any product type. So don't think I mean, it's hard. And it's daily work. None of these are new, like these have always been, but they're even more important now. Because I find now like so often also. And I know this is hard, but fulfillment, I go, I finally show up in real life. And then they don't have what I'm expecting them to have what they should have in stock.

Wendy 29:24

Yeah, you also raise the point of the people in the store or in the physical space, whether it's on the phone line, that's in the chat, I sometimes think may chatbots can be people right? In my AI world, I guess these days. That whole experience when I think about that, quote unquote, laying on of hands, whether it's literally in a place where I'm trying something on or it's in a place where somebody stands next to me and says oh I tried that for dinner I tried that one of our team was talking about a new brand of tea. How did you find out about the new brand of tea. It wasn't in a review or an influencer. It was actually she was buying tea in the aisle and the person next to us said, oh, you should try that.

Dawn 30:08

Oh, yeah, the power of the shopper next to you

Wendy 30:11

It's right. When you were doing Amazon Style, the role of people in that very digital space. How did you think about people? You mean,

Dawn 30:21

the employees or the employees? Yes, I want to make two comments about this. One is, that is a great context to talk about that. But prior to that, you know, well, uh, my long experience with Nordstrom, so we were I was very focused on customer service, right. But when I was at Starbucks, we had an international design symposium with my team who was working in 60 countries, and I had Howard Schultz come in. And we asked him this question, Howard, if there was one thing you could tell these designers, what should you focus on? That's kind of universal, works in all these 60 countries? And his answer was focus on making this store a place where partners, those are employees at Starbucks feel good and proud to be there. That was his answer. His answer was about the employees. I mean, it took me aback for a minute having grown up in the school of Nordstrom customer service, which of course, they do take great care of employees too. But that focus, and when you think about human factors, too, like those are the people that are living there. And if they feel good, the power that employees have to convey excitement, and help and have a memorable experience for customers, is by far the most powerful thing you have in a store as a retail operator. So back to the Amazon side of this question, which I think maybe people suspected that's a replacement. But I think the issue really is how can technology not only enable the customers, but the employees to do their work? And you brought up the AI word, but like, I can't stop thinking about it. And I think, you know, this is like, early days, because what is that going to be able to not overtake us, of course, there's plenty of sci fi things we can watch, and be scared about. But the idea that this is a powerful tool that can we can use that we can deploy to do what we want to do. Even I think the existential crisis for code writers is wait a minute, now I can actually create these products, more of them, and faster. And so that if the development timeline is moving quicker, how many more of these experiences tools to help humans do what humans want to do? And then that's kind of that goes back to like, fundamentally how I think about technology as the it's a tool for us. It's not a replacement for us. It's empowering us to do more.

Wendy 33:06

Yeah, I think I think as I think about this last three years, I think a lot about that, because obviously, as you said earlier, people experienced technology as a necessity in terms of shopping in terms of connection to people, in terms of me and my family across the world. Staying in touch, there were so many uses for it, I can't imagine being very close to my Australian New Zealand family, not having seen them, even if I could hear them, not having seen them and the kids grow up and you know, new houses and whatever, moving and school and things like that, I can't imagine what that have looked like. And then as they think about it from a shopping standpoint, and what the store, physical or digital looks like, you know, the opportunity now to think about how it enables us to have the people in the store focus on what we want them to focus on, or I mean in a positive way, as opposed to changing prices, putting yellow stickies up, taking them down and putting them up, stocking the shelves, you know, all of those things. So I do think that as I think about the Amazon store, as I think about all of the Amazon experiments, but also as I think about the Nordstrom experience or being at my local CVS or Target or Walmart or Kroger or wherever the power of that is really impressive. Just a last thought or two. You know, it struck me last time you and I saw each other with the wonderful Tim Girvin who was also been on this podcast talking about branding and how to think about brands today, and we had our Tumeric chai latte. Wow, I've never seen anything so fabulous than yellow in my life. Thank you. People from Seattle drink these things. What can I tell you everybody, but you and I, we stood back and there was a movie down in Soho, everyone, and there was a florist shop behind us. And it had this amazing bower of they're actually fake flowers on the outside, and one of the things I noticed during the pandemic has things opened up, particularly in Manhattan, more and more of these kind of floral experiences. And it was that emotional connection and the beauty of things which I found really striking. And it made me think about the role of the store and the entrance. And all of those kinds of things, is that that's always something you've thought about, right?

Dawn 35:25

Well, I mean, actually, back to biophilic design, who doesn't love flowers. And that's one aspect to it, I think. But now I get to go back and give a plug for another early influence to me, which is Christopher Alexander, who is well known for writing a pattern language. He's an architectural theorist and teacher at Berkeley, where I was in architecture school. And he also has this amazing collection of Turkish rugs, which he has studied in detail, and has kind of really come out with this theory that to make something feel like it's made by hand or human touched by humans, there has to be an eighth of an inch articulation in the design. And I call that fine structure. And it's a way of thinking about when you're designing a space, you might be planning a whole city or, you know, doing a major, you know, million square foot department store. But the eighth of an inch is actually the place that might actually be the most memorable thing to a human who ends up interfacing in this environment. So somebody did say God is in the details, that was another architect. But these small details matter. So don't ever forget that. I also had an experience with Marvin Traub, who, of course, everyone knows,

Wendy 36:55

well, not everybody. But yeah, well, I had the good

Dawn 36:59

fortune, like late in his career, he was doing international work. And we worked together on a Harvey Nichols in Dubai. And Marvin would put an architect's scale on a drawing and say, you know, that aisle is six inches too narrow. And he was really, really into flow, which I loved. I mean, I think there's nothing more important than, you know, allowing, not not creating barriers, any kind of whether they're psychic or physical, allowing people to flow through space, but also like the fact that he cared enough to put that little scale on that drawing and say that inch matters. I think that was another kind of big lesson and something I never forget, even regardless of the large scale of project I might be working on that that smallest. That is why for me like working on the the architecture, as well as the, you know, every detail of the design, down to the interior, the decor, the visual, merchandising, all of that. It's the full integration of all of that that matters in the end. Yeah. Well,

Wendy 38:12

speaking of end, we've come to that I think you've defined very clearly some of the things that our listeners whether they're in the sort of CPG space, the big chain space, the precious specialty space, can think about now because building a human store in these times is probably more important than ever. So thank you Dawn Clark, for joining me. And may we have another Turmeric chai latte somewhere in the world soon. Thanks for coming.

Dawn 38:43

I look forward to that one. Thank you, Wendy. It's always a pleasure, a great pleasure. I know we could chat for hours and we will over a cocktail her next time. All right. Thank you. Cheers.

Wendy 38:54

So here's the thing. I mean, that was a an extraordinary journey into the earth the fundamentals of what a retail experience should look like these days, but not just should look like should feel like and smell like and the kind of air and the space, whether you're selling coffee, or you're selling luxury clothing. I think the things to remember some of the things that don't clear out Dawn mentioned very clearly, they were do not confuse marketing with visual presentation. Do not think that tossing digital everything is the solution. If you can bring your broad design teams together, whether it's the marketing people, whether it's the packaging people, the store display people, the overall design and digital people together, particularly as you launch new things, but every day, to refine the experience that will be a win and the other is, she was preaching to the converted and you could all say this, we could go 123 altogether now, if you keep the shopper in In the center of the conversation, then you understand what trips she or he are on. You can understand what's that moment, what's that momentary and very human need they're trying to fulfill. And that's what the future of retail needs to be in the future. See you there.

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