This is always something we strive to do in our work as we believe retail design is not just about making a store look pretty, it’s also about creating an environment that best serves the people who inhabit it: both customers and staff. But the fact that clients are also now requesting this is a positive development. Not only is it the right thing to do from a human perspective, but brands who follow this route may also see a commercial advantage because a workforce who feel seen, represented, and comfortable at work will also be in a position to deliver better customer service. Design that embraces diversity and inclusivity can facilitate this.
From an agency perspective, when approaching the design of retail spaces that feel more inclusive, we have been considering more ‘inclusive design’ processes that include the people who will use the space in the creative process. This is in contrast to the traditional ‘design-thinking’ approach that places ultimate control in the hands of the designer: someone who may never actually use the space.
Involving the end-users in the process helps ensure that the space genuinely caters for the diversity of the people who will use it. It also means we need to think of diversity in all its guises, including lesser-discussed aspects such as neurodiversity: ensuring that the full spectrum of diversity is considered for both a brands’ staff and customers.
As clients continue to prioritise diversity and inclusion, it’s imperative for creatives to also flex and evolve their working methods in these kinds of ways. This will help them to meet these demands and take full advantage of the opportunities clients are now presenting us with to achieve real change. While it won’t happen overnight, and there is still a long way to go, we must make the most out of these positive developments in order to continue building a creative industry that all of us are proud to be a part of.