Studio Insights: What’s Next in Retail and Real Estate Innovation?

On April 11th, the Nordic Commercial Spaces & Communities (NCSC) Awards – a competition that celebrates the most successful, innovative, and creative efforts in the industry – will be decided, and for the fourth year in a row, Vanna Gunnarsson, Architect MSA/Placemaker at Studio Stockholm, together with Martin Kjellman (Urban Retail) and Tobias Rönnberg (CityCon) will be on the jury for the Innovation of the Year category.


Here they share their thoughts on the biggest trends in the field right now.


  • Sustainability – a foundation for future innovation. Moving beyond traditional recycling efforts, the future of shopping centers is closely tied to a comprehensive approach to sustainability. This involves initiatives aimed at reducing environmental impact and improving the sustainability of the physical premises. These efforts not only meet the growing consumer demand for sustainable practices but also establish a strong foundation for future innovation.


  • Renaissance for mixed use. After several decades of a strong emphasis on retail, shopping centers and city centers are now more actively than ever diversifying their tenant mix to be more than just destinations for shopping. Health care facilities, libraries, schools, service providers, and leisure activities are increasingly taking over spaces previously dedicated to retail. This diversification adds more reasons to visit, increasing footfall and making both the tenant mix and the physical locations more resilient to economic fluctuations. In essence, there are great synergies between commercial and public services and retail, which provide additional value to landlords, tenants, and visitors.


  • Crisis as a breeding ground for innovation. It is in the nature of economic downturns that the number of bankruptcies increases, and with this, vacancies also become more numerous. For the individual property owner, this can be a challenge, but for the market as a whole, this creates new mobility and thereby an opportunity to reconsider the use of existing spaces. Already, we are seeing many creative solutions where pop-up concepts contribute to filling otherwise empty locations and at the same time reinventing the shopping experience for consumers. A win-win, quite simply.


  • The importance of personalized experiences. In an era where e-commerce prevails, the physical shopping experience is being reimagined through digital integration. This trend is driven by a decrease in brand loyalty, underscoring the importance of forging meaningful relationships and delivering added value to consumers both online and in-store. Personalization tactics not only cater to individual preferences but also reinforce the unique value proposition of physical retail spaces in a digital world.


Studio Insights is a format where Studio Stockholm shares analyses, insights, and trend observations in interior architecture, architecture, and design.