Case study – Delay No Mall

HONG KONG’S NEW DELAY NO MALL LIFESTYLE RETAIL OUTLET IS DESIGNED TO ASSAULT THE SENSES. IT IS CONSISTENT ONLY IN THAT IT ISUNPREDICTABLE

Delay No Mall certainly lives up to its name (which some claim is a homonym for a local Cantonese cuss phrase). A Jumbotron screen on the facade harks back to the heyday of Hong Kong showbiz and the concept of time acts as the overarching theme, embellished by clockwork and pendulum motifs. But this is not a place for reminiscing.

The mall, spanning three levels in a 17-storey building, is owned by design group Goods of Desire which clearly has an uncanny knack for creating controversial names. God carries a self-eponymous brand and Delay No More, which specialises in home furnishings and fashion. Both feature designs by God founders Douglas Young and Benjamin Lau. There is a Delay No More concept store within the mall.

Sitting on the former site of a cinema, Delay No Mall faces the Philippe Starck-designed boutique hotel JIA Hong Kong. The launch party was the talk of blogs for weeks. Visitors could not stop talking about the eclectic design that gives a consistently unpredictable visual and experiential shopping journey.

The design team from Atelier Pacific, led by Doris Tang, Rowena Gonzales and Leo Leung, sound most excited when they describe the mall’s toilets, ‘Each unit is installed with special lighting and sound effects, which activate when the toilet is used,’ they say.

Since it was commissioned to work on the entire mall, Atelier Pacific had to accommodate all the needs of numerous tenants, while relying on inaccurate existing building evaluation and management records. The team also recall how all the design elements had to be ‘non-repetitive’. This meant ‘using lots of different computer 3D modelling for many different areas to help understand and study the space and furniture so that we could make the design workable and special’.

The mall’s flagship store, Delay No More, features daring, dramatic curved strips of black and white on the floor (an optical illusion to draw in passers-by and ‘an interpretation of time warp’), which can be a little challenging to serious shoppers going through racks of Just Cavalli apparel and Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Lovers watches.

A mall with brands such as WowWee Robotics, Potato and Co, Galliano and Alessi is sure to draw fidgety youths in sneakers and baggy pants, so it was common sense to opt for low-maintenance materials. For this, durable galvanised steel floors were used, which at the same time play up the cement sand floor with embedded acrylic features and epoxy paint.

The black-and-white floor was painted on to a resin-based cement using epoxy paint that is tough and long-lasting. Roman balustrade columns (glass columns with customised self-adhesive film), white rattan armchairs, swinging pendulums, glass fibre elephants and scarlet draperies reside happily together, albeit making strange neighbours.

‘We did not want the experience to be too linear as we hope visitors will discover something new every time,’ the design team comments, although it insists that there was ‘a flow that goes through the whole mall’ that makes navigation less tricky than it looks. The desire to constantly surprise and thrill is in line with the team and client’s want for a playground that can bring out the ‘inner child’ in the adult shopper, and is reinforced by the use of whimsical accessories such as robots and clock cogs.

The mall’s design is not just a conversation piece: expect it to respond to you too. Upon detecting sound, an interactive display unit on the ground floor triggers the sensor to project images by different artists on to the ceiling. It is not just your visual sense under attack in here, either. In an irreverent fashion typical of God, a sonic sound speaker at the first-floor entrance cheekily ‘whispers’ to shoppers as they pass by.

A colourful van, modified to become a DJ booth, has been brought in from the Philippines and is just waiting for installation, after which shoppers can spend their weekend evenings shaking their booties in the mall.

Thankfully, the designers have also provided some respite, however, with the mall’s sleeping pod service. The futuristic-looking capsules are ideal for tired shoppers who can admire (real) plants flourishing on the wall via a hydroponic system and a shallow pond beneath their feet. God claims it is the first and only company in Hong Kong to operate this kind of service. In the end, and despite its name, this mall would be something even mothers would approve of.

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