A Journey of Inspiration and Innovation Through Travel

The Places 2023 Took Us and How They Shaped Our Work

A Journey of Inspiration and Innovation Through Travel

Estimated Read Time: 5 Minutes

Embarking on a journey spanning North America, Europe, Australia and Asia, our associates explored new places in 2023, sharing experiences that resonated with WD's core services: architecture, engineering, design, strategy, operations, and development services. Here, we'll uncover unique insights gained during some of our travels, which continue to serve as a source of inspiration for our work.

Germany & Italy: A Symphony of Tradition and Bold Design

In Germany and Italy, we marveled at the symphony created by the juxtaposition of new and old, tradition and history. This intricate balance emphasized the importance of honoring heritage and existing cultures while embracing innovation, values we strive to emulate in our work. IN addition, the meticulous attention to detail observed in these countries underscored the importance of precision and craftsmanship, values integral to our architectural, engineering and design pursuits.

Something else we noticed from the Germans and Italians was their fearless use of color and boldness. This served as a poignant reminder to infuse creativity into our work, push the boundaries of conventional design, and foster an environment where innovative ideas are not only accepted but celebrated.

Related: From Hype to Habit: How Innovative Retail Brands are Embracing Sustainability at EuroShop in 2023

A Journey of Inspiration and Innovation Through Travel

Los Angeles: Architectural Marvels and Unapologetic Visions

In the architectural haven of Los Angeles, we encountered larger-than-life experiences that left quite an impression. The strong brand voices prevalent in LA helped brands stand out in innovative, bold ways, something we aim to help each brand we work with achieve, and in a way that can be scaled without hindering the customer experience.

The "Sorry, not sorry" tone embraced in LA spoke to the courage required to implement innovative designs and strategies and the importance of fostering an environment where boldness is celebrated, and where embracing challenges and learning from failures are integral to growth.

Attending the Adobe MAX Creative Park in LA, we dove into a hub of creativity, drawing parallels between the integration of AI and human design with our commitment to cutting-edge experiences. The exploration of new tools and the importance of collaboration among creatives echo our interdisciplinary approach and pursuit of collaboration.

Related: How to Be a Great, Not Just Good, Retailer

A Journey of Inspiration and Innovation Through Travel

Sydney & Melbourne: Vibrant Trends and Key Takeaways

In the bustling cities of Sydney and Melbourne, consumer trends intertwine seamlessly with the vibrant culture and lifestyle that defines these Australian cities. In terms of shopping and retail behaviors, mall culture thrives, creating significant traffic drivers for consumers looking to spend their days shopping. The desire for luxury retail experiences has turned the Pacific region into a fashion destination, while the prevalence of omni-channel shopping reflects a blend of online convenience and the entertainment of physical retail.

Exploring Sydney and Melbourne emphasized the importance of creating meaningful spaces that support community building while also providing personalized experiences through both online and offline channels. We walked away with the key takeaways that injecting moments of engagement, from large scale digital immersion to simple photo opportunities can help create meaningful connections and social shares, and that there is value in giving space for a single idea, category, or product–executing that singular focus, and doing it exceptionally well, creates a lasting impression and builds customer loyalty.

Related: The Evolution of Stores: How to Be Relevant in a Constant State of Change

A Journey of Inspiration and Innovation Through Travel

European Insights: Retail, Hospitality, and Strategic Excellence

Amsterdam, London, and Edinburgh unveiled unique observations about retail and hospitality. The emphasis on service and employing workers who are actively engaged with customers in stores served as a model for enhancing the customer experience. The contrast in staff shortages between these locations and those at home pointed to the positive impact of employee well-being on service quality.

The multi-brand culture we witnessed in Europe encouraged us to be open to diverse influences and foster a dynamic environment that reflects the varied tastes of our audience. The seamless integration of high-end and low-end environments (i.e. high-end brands with low-end or vintage shopping environments) in markets and malls served as a reminder that diversity in offerings can create a rich and inclusive brand experience.

Finally, the curated list of retail and hospitality gems from Aime Leon Dore in SoHo to the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam provided a roadmap for inspiration and innovation in our own endeavors. From bustling streets of Shoreditch to the serene ambiance and charm of Edinburch Castle, these destinations illustrated the diversity of experiences that shape a well-rounded worldview, crucial for how we approach our work.

Related: Are You Holiday Ready? The Importance of Staffing, Merchandise Availability, and Visual Merchandising for a Successful Holiday Season

A Journey of Inspiration and Innovation Through Travel

Mexico: Unveiling the Heartbeat of Mexico City's Community and Retail Dynamics

Mexico City pulsated with a robust sense of community and national pride deeply rooted in the country's history and shared humanity. This was on vivid display during Independence Day celebrations at the National Palace and in the clear indications of a shared passion for football that fostered camaraderie among the city's diverse residents.

Café culture permeated the streets, with occupied seats fostering connectivity morning, afternoon, and night. Mall culture also thrived, evolving from shopping centers to entertainment hubs where shopping, services, dining, and socializing seamlessly coexist. The constant flow of pedestrian traffic at all hours emphasized the vibrant life within these spaces. We walked away with a clear message from Mexico City: Community first and always; there is immeasurable value in brands building connection and loyalty to their community.

Related: Big Store, Little Store: How Retail Giants Are Getting Smaller and Going Local

A Journey of Inspiration and Innovation Through Travel

WD associates' 2023 travels not only broadened our horizons but also offered valuable insights and inspiration that elevate our collective efforts at WD. As we navigate the ever-changing landscape of our industry, we hope these experiences will be a guiding light, propelling us forward with a renewed sense of purpose, awe, and creativity.

About Wayfind

Lost and in need of guidance? That’s why we created Wayfind—the WD blog designed to be your beacon in this rapidly evolving world. In these short, thought-provoking reads, you’ll discover insights into the minds of your consumers and be inspired to go out into the world to create your own extraordinary experiences.

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