Issue 3/2016

Cool Cities Dubai

Interviews: Nisreen Shocair, Karl Schwitzke, T-Michael, Stephan Kalbfell, Marco Lanowy, Christoph Stelzer, Orhan Baykan, Marco Götz


Dubai: The new metropolis of boundless opportunity.

Our quest for progressive store design projects and interesting retail concepts often takes us to far-flung destinations. While Tokyo, São Paulo and Los Angeles were our favourites so far, the setting of this issue’s Cool Cities special, the futuristic destination of Dubai, is also gliding effortlessly into the upper echelons of our list.

What happens when money does the talking in a highly competitive retail sector can be witnessed in all its magnitude at Dubai’s malls. The ultra-modern, premium shop architecture in the city’s vast consumer temples, The Dubai Mall and The Mall of the Emirates, is simply jaw-dropping. Retailers here are constantly outdoing one another with more innovative and more impressive store designs. And if anyone knows how to prove that bigger is better then it’s the United Arab Emirates.

Although the whole mall concept seems to have fallen out of favour in Europe, with people in this part of the world preferring more exclusive shopping experiences, a trip to Dubai’s malls and their stylishly designed Céline and Apple stores is enough to change the mind of even the staunchest mall sceptic. But also outdoor ‘walkable retail’ beyond the malls is being rediscovered in this city on the coast of the Persian Gulf: Dubai’s outdoor shopping miles, known as ‘Walks’, are enjoying growing popularity. From page 44 you can read all about which stores are leading the way in terms of design and offer, and also find out the best place to unwind and cool down after a sweltering day in the desert.
We talked to Karl Schwitzke about the trends originating from this multicultural, superlativecraving metropolis and how they are influencing the European market. His architecture and design firm Schwitzke & Partner has been active in Dubai for 13 years now and opened its own office there eight years ago.

We also wanted to look at the city’s shopping Eldorado from the perspective of a successful retailer so we met up with Nisreen Shocair, President of Virgin Megastore Middle East & North Africa, at her office in the Media One Tower. In our interview she let us in on what makes the United Arab Emirates’ generation of under-30s tick. Despite her impressive title – Forbes Middle East included her in their list of the top 100 most powerful women in the Middle East – she still knows exactly what her target group wants and needs. Shocair is well aware that they are turning their backs on the big brands and tells us how she’s managed to transform the foundering CD and DVD retailer Virgin into a flourishing lifestyle brand over the last ten years.

And moving closer to home: the unexploited potential of Germany’s own retail sector was the topic of a round table panel in Stuttgart. Host Christoph Stelzer, co-founder of the retail specialist DFrost and the shopfitting expert in the group, participated in a lively discussion with Stephan Kalbfell, owner of the Stuttgart fashion institution Ave and representative of the retail sector. Completing the trio was Marco Lanowy, CEO of Alberto and responsible for the brand’s retail, sales and marketing.

You’ll find answers to the questions of how bricks-and-mortar and online retail could mutually benefit each another and what qualities and skills the participants think a modern retailer should bring to the table from page 68.
And last but not least – let’s not forget the fashion, which at the end of the day will always be our first love. In this issue’s photo editorials Frauke Fischer from Berlin, Ansgar Sollmann from London and Valeria Mitelman from Berlin and Kathrin Makowski from Munich are all showcasing refreshingly unconventionally styled oversized looks. A trend that we’re predicting will have a very big future and confirms what we discovered in Dubai: big really can be better!

Enjoy reading this new issue,

Ilona Marx





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