Interactive Systems Design in Retail Environments: Dramatic Structure as Sense-making Strategy

By Catherine Hu and Lawrence Lau.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The proliferation of technology into retail environments is visible at all levels: from Walmart’s decision to place Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags on all cases and pallets, to the internationally publicized Prada Epicenter store with its interactive dressing rooms and RFID-enabled garments and closets. Despite architectural firms and retail elites anxiously exploring how embedded technology could help create that unique shopping experience for the brand, there is a lack of documented examples and organized knowledge in this domain. Little has been studied on the different approaches in designing such an environment, or how an interactive retail experience should be carved. This paper describes an on-going archival research project originated from this premise. The goal of the project is to initiate a knowledge base in this domain, and to derive models of understandings that will help provide insights into the design challenges and parameters for future applications. This paper reports findings and analyses derived from the initial phase of investigation. Current use of interactive systems in the retail environment is reported together with discussions on general design and implementation issues. In addition, this paper also describes an initial attempt to formulate formal understandings in the field, that is, the proposition to use dramatic structure in conceptualising technology-supported retail design. The four constituent parts of a play or screenplay in Chinese culture, namely beginning, elucidation of theme, transition, and closure, are re-defined in the light of the customer’s experience in the retail store, thereby providing points of reference for respective design initiatives. The ultimate goal is to contribute to the understanding of the emerging field of experiential retailing.

Keywords: Interactive Systems Design, Interactive Retail Environments, Experiential Retailing, Interactive Design Archive, Online Portal

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 3, Issue 6, pp.127-142. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.674MB).

Catherine Hu

Associate Professor, School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Catherine Hu is Associate Professor at the School of Design of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. She teaches mainly in the areas of interaction design, visual communication design, and network-supported design collaboration. Current research focuses on design and technology, covering topics in tangible interfaces, interactive retail environments, interaction design methodology, and groupware for online design collaboration. She is interested in how technology impacts products, people, and experiences. In the past years, major efforts have been invested in teaching methodology and curriculum design on Interaction Design.

Lawrence Lau

Research Assistant, School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Lawrence Lau is a researcher at the Interaction Design Lab of the School of Design, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He holds a BA(Hons) degree in design also from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, majoring in Interactive Systems Design. Since graduation, he has worked on various interaction design projects at the Interaction Design Lab. Lawrence’s expertise is in user interface design and software develpoment for tangible interfaces.

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