Everything but the mall: Kelly Wearstler and Gensler reinvent shopping centre aesthetics

Los Angeles – As the landscape of the retail industry shifts by the minute, the endless air-conditioned corridors and stuffy interiors of shopping malls seem to belong to an era long before the rise of online shopping or the all-in-one micro-neighbourhood trend. In an attempt to overcome the conventional big-box archetype alluding to 1980’s consumerist suburbia, a new wave of shopping malls aim to identify with the local environment rather than escape it.

In collaboration with Los Angeles designer Kelly Wearstler and global firm Gensler, the worldwide shopping mall company Westfield rebrands its Century City property as a Southern California retreat, referencing local aesthetics in its architecture and interiors. A neutral palette with the occasional pop of colour, raw materials and floor-to-ceiling glass panes blur the boundaries between inside and out and assign to the space an airy, refined-yet-elegant atmosphere alluding to Californian effortlessness.

With plenty of outdoor space for gathering and organizing events, Westfield Century City revisits the original intent of shopping malls: that of a community center that merges retail, culture and social interaction. The various gardens and open courtyards laid in custom-designed patterned tiles host different seating arrangements, from intimate cabanas to communal tables. Travertine planters containing palm trees, cacti and various succulents incorporate the area’s climate adding to the eclectic mix of elements. 

In addition to commissioning sculptural pieces such as the Dango sculptures by Japanese-American artist Jun Kaneko, the property hosts a series of exhibitions in partnership with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the Art Production Fund (APF), reintegrating social and cultural value into the commercial space.

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