While I have been previously exploring retail environments, and the methods they use to enhance visitor numbers, sales and the overall shopping experience, I have become interested in the idea of the ‘mall’ as a whole. After becoming interested in Benjamin’s ‘Arcades Project’ and the comments he makes not only on the architecture of the arcades but of the characters, politics and intricacies of visiting the arcades. I am interested in the way that this overall experience is what lasts in the memory of the shopper, primarily the space and how one interacts with it, but also in the way that the shopper experiences the space as a person interacting with objects and other people, which are uncontrollable by the large firms, yet still remarkable shape ones memory of the shopping experience.
I am interested in the way that the space, as the unchanging factor, can be the defining factor in the shopping experience. If the space is older and less interesting architecturally, perhaps the shopping experience becomes dull and old-feeling too. I aim to quantify the experience of each shopping centre through a form of colour analysis. I am interested in recording colours as experienced in different views of the shopping centres, as colours are intrinsically attached to emotions, so can relay an experience of a place subtly to the viewer that will allow the viewer to understand the experience of the place without travelling there.
In order to complete this experiment I completed actions as follows:
- Collate a data group of images from the inside of the shopping centre. These shall be the first 20 images that come up when the phrase ‘Shopping Centre Interior’ is uttered. The only reason not to use one of these photographs is because it features mainly a store front, rather than the specific architecture of the space.
- Run these images through a program which finds the most prominent hex values within the image and record these in an Excel spreadsheet.
- Find out what colour on average each shopping centre is and understand what this means about the experience of each space. Find trends and averages within the data set.
Firstly, I set about collecting the images from Google image search as detailed above. Below are some of the sample images I collecting when investigating three shopping centres – The Oracle, Reading, Westfield, Shepherds Bush, and The Bullring, Birmingham. I chose to investigate these well know centres as I was interested in whether the colours changed depending on footfall, location or just the general experience of the space.
Sample Images from The Bullring, Birmingham
Sample Images from Westfield Stratford City, London
Sample Images from The Oracle, Reading
After collecting these images, 20 from each shopping centre, I ran them through some online software in order to find the most prominent colours in each image.
From each image, I took the most prominent three colours and entered them into my spreadsheet to document the wealth of colours in each image, and aim to find an average colour. I measured the colours in Hex values, as this was the easiest way to recreate specific colours uniformly across different programs, and different ways of displaying information.
My spreadsheets had several categories to sort the information, and thus be able to draw out differences and make conclusions based upon the information shown. Firstly, I categorised the image by using a descriptive title of whereabouts in the shopping centre the picture was taken, then the location of the shopping centre. I then took the image URL, so the viewer would be able to view the source image that colour information was taken from themselves. I then displayed the colour information of all the images next to one another.
Link to Completed Spreadsheet – Colours of the Shopping Centre
After inputting all the information, I wanted to find the average most prominent colour for each shopping centre, assigning a shopping centre a personality and sense of feeling through this colour grading. I found the average by running all the hex values for the primary, secondary and tertiary colours of each image through some software to find a combined hex value for each shopping destination, on http://www.colorhexa.com/.
My results were as follows:
The Oracle, Reading
The Bullring, Birmingham
Westfield Stratford City, London
Although arguably very similar shades of brown, the nuances of each colour, being darker or lighter, more green or more red are really highlighted when they are contextualised amongst each other. I am interested in colour as a form of classification for the experience of the shopping centre, and enjoyed the process of the research, data wrangling and investigation that procuring the data entailed. Overall, I am very happy with the outcome of the spreadsheet, and would like to explore the use of investigating the colours of retail environments further, including more locations.