382 Theatre X digital retail space


Date: July 2020
Designed by: Aarushi Kalra
Credit: aarushikalra

From the designer: ‘Theater X explores the future of modern retail, and its relevance post pandemic. The standstill brought about by COVID-19 not only tested the e-commerce capabilities of brick and mortar stores, but also showed the transient nature of these ‘permanent’ stores.

Though digital transactions have gained popularity, we are already feeling a major disconnect and digital burnout due to the highly clinical, curated, impersonal and unnatural interactions. We are slowly rediscovering the intrinsic human need to belong to a community, a need for subtle interactions of emotions, body language and full immersion. We are realising now more than ever, that we as social beings cannot be contained into a single screen.

There is now a higher focus on creating newer methods for immersive experiences of art, culture, fashion and retail, wherein collaboration becomes a defining factor. There is new worth seen in sharing spaces, keeping them alive, seeing a collective effort rather than an individualistic design language – which is all very simple to achieve in the digital world.

By observing how digital interfaces allow for an efficient and multidisciplinary user experience, the question that arises is how we can marry the digital with the physical to create a more dynamic and diverse retail experience than ever before, one that goes beyond conventional built constraints and is worth stepping out for even if certain precautions need to be maintained.

“Translating the digital into the physical”

Motivated by the challenges of futuristic ‘phygital’ spaces, I took up Border&Fall as a sample brand that purely exists in the digital realm, and studied the enhanced flexibility of digital interfaces facilitated by mechanical systems to create a truly iterative store, defined by its undefined nature in these uncertain times.

The store questions the architecture of a digital space by creating a unique setup for potentials, rather than assigning a predefined solution.

The systems incorporated allow the space to offer itself as a blank canvas, nimbly taking on the identity of the voice(s) and the programme it represents. The space in essence, thus acts like an architectural, ever changing display, with a vivid and mesmeric user experience while creating a unique sense of place.

It becomes a part of a larger conversation, almost as a filler in the community in post pandemic times, where people come together to collaborate and build a wide variety of experiences that is not limited by a certain person or function. It attempts to cater to the growing need of places that bind people together again as a community while traversing our desire to immerse ourselves in a very physical experience while also being accessible digitally.’


A V&A/RCA HISTORY OF DESIGN MA PROJECT