Where I grew up, shopping centres like ‘Tyger Valley’ and ‘Canal Walk’, were the paramount of an retail experience. But all I can remember is their badly imitated water features and florescent walkways. Even now after living in England for quite some time, I would rather go to my local high street over a mall. This time I decided to make my way to Westfield and I was honestly pleasantly surprised.
Navigation & Signage:
Getting to the centre was very convenient. The Central line, Jubilee, Overground or DLR takes you straight to Stratford and from the tube you directly enter the centre. The first thing you notice is each store from Greggs to Boots has a high end feel. As soon as you step inside there is a concierge desk that was very happy to help. Signage was not very subtle, using large electronic billboards and signs. It did not bother me that much, as every sign was thought through and well designed from layout to font type choice. The size of the actual building is really impressive. I went quite early and walking around was such a pleasure, finding a store was easy and getting back to the exit was not a problem.
Lighting is one of the most important elements in a store. Westfield used a lot of natural light, with large open space. For areas with not a lot of natural light they use smaller spot lights. Steering clear from the typical florescent lights was the best decision. Florescent lighting can be strenuous on your eyes and can make shoppers tired after hours of exposure.
The communal areas are large, but not a lot of seating. There are a few Eames style chairs and couches scattered around, but to me it did not look like enough seating space for shoppers. The chairs did look good,maybe a bit out of place at times, but even simple benches for shoppers in the larger walkways would of helped.
Large sharing tables, modern furniture, glass, Serif mixed with Sans serif text, wood, marble and good use of space. To me this sums up Westfield Stratford. Yes it is a place you avoid during peak seasons like Christmas (crowds may cause a stampede), but as far as a shopping centre goes, Westfield far exceeded my expectations.