Giacomo De Zoppi | The Sixth Sense of Architecture
Giacomo de Zoppi experiences the world through cultivated eyes. Capturing every aspect of the customer, Giacomo creates an in-store journey for each individual by concentrating not only on what one sees but on how one feels.
“My life is a journey, an eternal discovery of places and circumstances. Sometimes these places keep me with them for an indefinite and unexpectedly limited time. Other times, they let me go to discover something else.”
“I was born in Padua but I lived in many other very well know cities: Venice is the city I fell in love for its architecture and history; Amsterdam is the city of the wind; Rome is the imperial city, and Paris, for seven years has me trying to discover its 1000 faces. Each of these cities have shaped who I am today. In each of these cities, I have worked in companies within the retail business where I designed the human experience in commercial spaces.”
When narrating the in-store experience, Giacomo notes that it is truly about the humanistic aspect and not necessarily about the product. Consumers feel and evolve during the shopping experience. They need to be guided, and that is what Giacomo sees as truly valuable about the elements of retail experiential design.
“Psychology and the perception of places from a human point of view has always fascinated me and led to perceiving a retail space as an experience, where what we feel doesn’t have an economical value. Experience is linked to the senses, “5 + 1”, where the sixth is tied to people who do not think of an item to buy but how to feel about it.”
“The architect’s mission is to create the inspiration for the client on a journey (omni channel) allowing you to have a physical and digital experience. The path connects the customer to the brand’s DNA starting from the outside, on the façade, where the person can be “captured” by the aesthetics of space, the visual aspects that create and stimulate the attention of the individual. Materials, colors, shapes, smells, and sounds invite a customer to begin a unique experience, where digital reduces the physical boundaries of the space. Once the threshold is reached, the brain is stimulated by the senses and the place becomes a theater of purchase.”
Time is essential when determining a customer experience. The concept of slow retail vs. fast retail has to stay true to the brands POV, but also be relevant to each individual.
“The architect has the mission of creating a space for the customer experience. Think of it as a path where the person has to feel their senses stimulated at a precise moment. A significant variable in customer experience is time. Today, time is luxury. Dedicating time becomes necessary to have an experience. The architect must consider this variable in creating the client’s path. You can create shapes in the architecture of a space, where you can facilitate the conception of fast or slow retail. Fast retail is linked to digital and customer service: slow retail can allow you to have a customized experience. Architecture and design are part of this flow by favouring the experience.”
“Buying something indispensable has a completely different value than buying unnecessary.”
“Buying something indispensable has a completely different value than buying unnecessary. The time invested is different. The experience is different. The mind-set is different. In all this, the senses remain active and communicate feelings that will or will not lead to the purchase phase.”
Giacomo has always been attracted to all forms of nature. Using the ebb and flow of the natural world in his designs, he creates a unique retail environment.
“Everything is mathematically solved in nature. Everything is architecture in nature. That is why I believe that bringing organic shapes into the retail space can create a more immediate primordial connection with the person. Nevertheless, there are some time streams where linear and rational forms take strength and balance issues remain more understandable to the human being. Forms in the space allow the customer to move and follow the streams. In retail, to get to the product you have to go through an experience. These flows lead to experience and product.”
Giacomo finds inspiration for his work and designs from many places but the true source of his energy and inspiration for his creations and design concepts is human interaction and the daily details found in his surroundings.
“I am inspired by the millennials. They are discovering life independently and can focus on details that only their generation observes in the present, and that, for me, creates the future. We do not realize the strength these things have. They create, in their naivety, a trend that is felt in the immediate future. The problem remains the time. Like everything, especially when we talk about trends, it’s temporary. You have to ask yourself how to crystallize a trend and transform it from experience to something more long-lasting.”
“I have wondered many times whether the customer contemplates the space during the purchase and whether he knows the detail I have paid attention to.”
“Walking around the cities, especially the capitals, I feel attracted to the detail. A distorted detail has all the potential to become inspiration for a project. Re-elaboration of detail leads to the design proposal. The raw materials are opposed to noble materials to create a harmonious contrast. All the time devoted to the perception of space and details at a design stage, creates a place where customer experience is born. I have wondered many times whether the customer contemplates the space during the purchase and whether he knows the detail I have paid attention to or whether he is simply busy enjoying the experience and buying the product.”
Giacomo is truly inspired by his surroundings, embodying spatial aspects and characteristics to shape the kind of space he is going to create and design.
“Space itself, though empty, communicates the feelings and possibilities of creation. We can imagine everything we want, but if we listen to it and look at it, space, volume, and history will lead you to create design forms, which will be part of the place and its future appearance. Its microcosm then connects to the outer macrocosm. The outer life, the people living in the neighbourhood, contaminates the microcosm by generating ideas.”
Of course, nowadays retail cannot be discussed without the word digital or Omni channel coming into play. But Giacomo sees it as a way for a brand to express itself in all facets, whether online or in the store. It is not a burden but another type of extension of the brand ethos.
“Digital is part of the Omni channel experience, it’s a part of our daily life, and above all else, it is the opportunity to bring to the customer content that completes the experience. I consider digital accessory useful for practical purposes in a customer experience, giving priority to the development of the six senses and to have contact and interaction between humans. Today, a designer’s challenge is integrating the digital aspect into a human one. We are afraid to think of making it human. I think that there can be a reverse process, digitizing the human being. Perhaps we have already digitized since the extension of our hand has become digital thanks to smartphones, but the connected technology that installs in our lives truly creates a sort of addiction.”
“Digital detox? Yes please … But I still stay connected! We live a lifestyle that leads us to have an ever-connected object that accompanies us along the retail experience.”