George Gottl is the chief creative officer for UXUS, a leading creative brand and design agency. He has worked with some of the world’s leading retail and hospitality brands to re-imagine the consumer experience.
Tell me about UXUS? We started UXUS in 2003, just the two men and a dog. Next year will be our 20th anniversary we will be celebrating how the business has grown over the past two decades and reflect on the work we have done.
We began as an architectural firm and have since evolved to create end to end holistic retail and hospitality experiences. My role as the founder and chief creative officer is to set the creative pace for the company and help inspire our clients – at the beginning though, I did it all, I was the janitor, the tech guy you name it!
Let’s talk about hospitality design. What are the key considerations in designing a space. Has this changed in the last few years? Spaces in general have been redefined and more fluid, it’s less about an actual specific use and much more multi-purpose, for example in hospitality they are focusing on brand extension, marketing beyond their offerings. Restaurants or hotels have introduced small retail areas where they sell condiments, candles, luxury amenities etc., allowing them to not only generate more income, but also develop more meaningful and lasting brand experiences for their guests.
Now retail. Since the pandemic how has the customer experience in retail changed? There has been a transformation in the overall experience. For example, value brands such as Uniqlo, have eliminated the cashier and introduced self-check outs in their stores. The focus is less on customer contact across the board and simply about convenience, efficiency and a fast self-check-out. Whereas with luxury brands it’s all about human interaction and exceptional customer service, staff members at luxury stores want to create an unforgettable journey for the consumer from start to finish which often involves multiple people guiding you through each touchpoint.
Is there still a need for physical retail spaces? More than ever, there is a need for physical retail spaces that customers can experience and immerse themselves in. Spaces have become theater, its more than just about the purchase, the focus is about the in-store experience and psychological connection. Retail spaces are more interactive with areas to encourage dwell time and create emotion around the brand.
Are there lessons to be learnt in retail design that influence other interior spaces? Overall interior spaces need to be about the brand and their point of view, for example, if a brand represents maximalism then the space needs to reflect that for the consumer to be immersed in the brand’s zeitgeist.
There is a cross pollination between segments in markets, retail is being influenced by hospitality and vice-versa. It’s all about being fluid and creating an unforgettable experience for customers that they will talk about and share with their friends!