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01 April, 2012

A Presentation of Research Retail Without Walls: Kiosk Culture

Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar Assistant Professors Liam Colquhoun and Matthew Holmes-Dallimore present their research on Kiosk Culture.

Funded by a VCUQatar Faculty Research Grant, ‘Retail Without Walls: Kiosk Culture’ will be hosted at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art from 1 to 11 April, 2012 with an opening reception on 1 April at 7:30 pm at Mathaf. The event is open to the public.

Retail is a massive sector within the commercial design industry; however despite the plethora of information concerning retail design in general, there is very little material about how designers typically approach small, ad-hoc retail opportunities like a kiosk. For Liam Colquhoun, assistant professor of Interior Design, VCUQatar and Matthew Holmes-Dallimore, assistant professor of Interior Design, VCUQatar, this was an invitation for further exploration.

“The Retail Without Walls: Kiosk Culture project came about as a direct result of our teaching a retail design studio together every year for the past eight years. We found that having students design a mobile kiosk was a good introductory project for the class, forcing them to consider some of the core considerations of retail design, such as identity and functionality, but at a fairly compact, manageable scale,” explained Liam Colquhoun.

In an effort to provide some supporting information for VCUQatar students, Colquhoun and Holmes-Dallimore began to collect their own data about how people design environments that support a simple transaction, which raised questions that had not previous been considered about exactly what makes a kiosk successful.

Subsequent research asked the question: ‘What are the core properties common to impromptu retail opportunities in different cultures and how might they be used to inform contemporary retail kiosk design?’

A series of grants paid for research trips to Dubai, Boston, Marrakech, Mumbai and Istanbul, allowed Colquhoun and Holmes-Dallimore to look closely at how these structures varied and shared some common characteristics. These observations, in turn, informed new kiosk design projects undertaken in the retail design studio that started the whole process. Their efforts to make steps in this direction are not intended to be a definitive checklist of ‘what makes a good stall or kiosk’, but rather an opening comment in what they hope will become a fertile discourse among retail designers and other interested parties.

“This presentation will be the culmination of eighteen months work to date, but we have plans to continue the research further, perhaps exploring the phenomenon of un-manned kiosks, and how identity plays a larger role in the design of western kiosks. The dissemination of this work so far will be presented at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, where we will present our research in various media. We are pleased to present our research and findings in such a prestigious venue,” stated Holmes-Dallimore.

“Mathaf is excited to continue its support of community projects and arts education with this unique event. By providing a venue for VCUQatar to share and discuss design research, the museum acts as a platform for thoughtful engagement around design,” said Michelle Dezember, Mathaf head of Education.

‘Retail Without Walls: Kiosk Culture’ is hosted at Mathaf from 1 to 11 April 2012. Admittance is free with the entrance to Mathaf. Attendance at the opening reception on 1 April at 7:30 pm is free. Entrance is free at all times for students with valid ID and children under the age of sixteen.

Kiosks examined fr the research project