Why Shopping Malls Are Confusing

Hendrik-Jan Grievink
October 27th 2013

You walk into a shopping mall, your intentions firmly focused on finding a sensible pair of shoes or a replacement t-shirt. You glance around, suddenly disorientated by the visual cacophony of stores, carts, water fountains and crowds. Hours later, you leave the mall laden with bags of stuff you didn't plan on buying. What happened?

The Jerde transfer refers to shopping center design that is intentionally confusing and overstimulating. According to the sociologist Giandomenico Amendola, "Amplification, bombardment of the senses, entertainment, are the means by which City Walk or Fremont Street change the modern flaneur into an addicted consumer... Design principles [of the Jerde transfer] are chaos and incoherence..." Commercial structures that might seem designed for utility or convenience are actually created in order to manipulate us into opening our wallets. Welcome to the natural habitat of capitalism.

Image via The Daily Mail.

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