APPDESIGNx is a collaborative, interdisciplinary design group consisting of instructors and students from throughout Appalachian State University's Department of Applied Design. Each year the collective will take an extensive look into a new topic through broad research, consumer surveys, detailed ideation, prototyping, and closed-loop feedback from users. Each endeavor will be shared with the public through a series of exhibitions and discussions. 

Project 1 | The Future of Retail

Our digital world is collecting information on us every second of everyday. Your phone is constantly connecting you to data and at the same time harvesting data from you. The fitness tracker or smartwatch, is telling you how many more steps or calories you need to burn, while collecting your sleep and location patterns. Yes, scary in some ways, but beautiful in others. If harnessed, this data can help influence the environment around you to create better experiences. Light, colors, sounds, forms, proportions, smells, air temp/ humidity, everything could be adjusted to enhance the feeling or mood, change and improve the emotional level of the situation.

This Exponential Experiential world is now upon us and what better way to experience its potential than by shopping and seeing how it could influence our choices and behavior.

Retail is evolving. Online shopping has become a tailored experience unique to each individual, constructed from countless sources collecting data on consumer habits, experiences, and patterns. To remain relevant, traditional retail environments must now offer visitors something exclusive to our physical world. Shifting focus away from utility transactions, limited variety, and high volume product storage, and using their spaces to create a variety of branding opportunities and experiences. Whether helping customers align through lifestyle, satisfying a need for physical interaction with a product, or simply engaging user history; an experiential approach is essential to retail’s evolution. The Future of Retail (FoR) Project asks the question of how we can incorporate the digital interface of online environments into a physical retail space by utilizing customer data and contemporary technology.

Throughout our research, FoR has looked at both the pro’s and con’s of physical retail space as well as online retail in the attempt to distill the best elements from both. We’ve imagined a space that interacts with users based on their custom shopper profile to provide a guided experience via visual cues, such as lighting and live information displays; Adapting throughout their interaction with a product or their display devices to give feedback intuitive to their shopping patterns. FoR has developed, prototyped, and presented an aesthetically dynamic space to emulate this experience at ICFF in New York, NY, and is currently in phase two concept refinement based on user feedback from that installation. It is our goal to continue to develop an intuitive, seamless, and immersive in store experience as accessible and convenient as online shopping, that provides users with a tactile and dynamic environment which appeals to their identity in relevance to the brand.

Future of Retail - ICFF (International Contemporary Furniture Fair) Schools Exhibition

As one of twelve schools invited to participate in May 2018, the Future of Retail design group showed off our innovative approach in a full size working prototype of the Pop-Up shop for Outdoor Goods. See the all the photos [Here]

Future of Retail Images

Future of Retail - HOW Space Exhibition

In January of 2019, version 2 of the Future of Retail will be presented in our hometown of Boone, NC. The Exhibition will be at HOW Space [182 Howard Street] from January 18th - February 1st. Version 2 looks to answer many of the questions posed during the initial exhibition in New York City. Each of the retail fixtures will see substantial improvements. After the show, updated images will be posted.


Appalachian State University