Pulling the consumers’ strings

If, as Fitch would have it, the Nineties has spawned a new breed of international jetsetters, then some aspects of airport design need a major rethink. As we all cease to be mere passengers and become that wonderfully exploitable entity the consumer in transit – or ‘transumer’ – then we’re going to need more opportunities to shop en route to our business or holiday destination.

This is the thinking behind the 1997 Fitch Amtico Retail Design Awards, won by John Gigli from Glasgow School of Art. Gigli took home 1000 and the promise of a placement with Fitch for a scheme centred on ‘strings’ of compatible shops. The idea is that if you put together shops selling related goods – say, jewellery, clothing and accessories – it’s easier and more tempting for waiting travellers to buy things. The strings are arranged to lure customers in via a series of ramps and bridges, but there is a more direct route through the terminal if you prefer.

But however attractive the retail offers, the main reason for being at an airport is usually to travel, with all the stresses that that brings. Knowledge is power, however, and knowing what’s happening with your flight is a great aid to relaxation, so Gigli has incorporated plenty of information points. Of particular interest to the judges was the concept of an electronic ‘Info card’, which you insert into one of many wall-mounted units to hear details of flight times, delays and departure gates in whatever language you choose.

Gigli’s classmate Toni Ghani was highly commended in the awards, winning 500. Glasgow School of Art meanwhile received a cheque for 1500, students of interiors tutor Drew Plunkett winning top honours in the award for the third year running.

Designer: John Gigli, Glasgow School of Art

Competition: 1997 Fitch Amtico Student Retail Design Award

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