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More than art’s sake: the business rationale for better spatial design

“Emotional connection is a shared language for us humans. And when we enter a space that resonates with us, we think, ‘This is me.’ It’s the sounds, the textures, the colors, the vibrancy, the smells … they make up an experience, which in turn evokes a feeling for those present,” says Brent Watts, Chief Creative Officer at Struck—and visionary behind our STRKTR spatial design projects. 

When we create a space, we’re not just acting as designers, he argues. We’re interpreters. We give brands the spatial language to tell their story authentically and evoke an unforgettable response. 

“People want something they can relate to,” says Watts. “And when a brand creates a story that’s carried through every dimension and every touchpoint, including real, physical spaces … they build a connection that’s not only authentic—it’s actually manifestation of that brand’s integrity. It shows deep identification with their audience.” 

In a world of increasingly digital and virtual experiences, we yearn for the tactile—the human. In a digital age, the physical experience becomes a differentiator. Beautiful, playful, and inspiring places are more than a ”just-because”  They’re a brand imperative, and a business imperative. 

“When you change the space, you change the emotion. When you change the emotion, you change the experience,” explains Andrew Howlett, our CEO. “… And when you change the experience, you change the business.”

It’s why we encourage brands in every realm, from retail to hospitality, to conjure something more impactful from their physical spaces. Why build a toy shop when you could create a whimsical world like JouJou, where fairy dolls live in a giant three-dimensional tree and rainbow-hued treats fill a wall-to-wall candy organ? Why build a corporate lobby when you could infuse every element of the Jacobsen Construction entrance with texture and art that enshrines their motto, “Built for Life”? And why would you simply “decorate” a collegiate sports space when you could channel the raw energy of football into every surface and sound within the University of Utah Football Hall of Fame? 

The business of experience 

Over many years specializing in this work, we’ve witnessed how immersive, engaging, and imaginative branded spaces bear value beyond art for art’s sake. In fact, the cold hard numbers confirm that creativity pays off. 

A redesigned, reimagined lobby and common areas at Nickelodeon Animation Studios translated to a whopping 33% reduction in their cost of recruiting and retention, according to then Nickelodeon President Russell Hicks. 

That’s because their lobby is more than a lobby. Struck partnered with Nickelodeon to make their animation building’s entry a portal to a fantastical parallel universe where Nickelodeon characters, storylines, themes, and art styles came to life in real, tangible ways. Every animator who walks through the front door is reminded of the studio’s legacy and creative firepower. And every top recruit stepping into the space is awed, inspired, and motivated to become a part of the Nickelodeon world.

Unforgettable design makes workspaces work better  

Nickelodeon serves as one colorful example, but the benefits of exceptional office spaces go far beyond their story. Their increase in retention was impressive—and other brands could expect boosts in their retention and recruitment as well. In fact, a survey by Future Workplace and View found that 83% of employees would consider leaving their current job for a more inspiring office space. 

Engagement stands to benefit too—multiple studies have linked beautifully designed work spaces to substantial productivity boosts. And, according to Humanyze Workforce Analytics, a space that “blends the functional and beautiful” leads to higher levels of collaboration and communication, plus improved employee wellbeing and satisfaction. 

The ROI of remarkable places 

Workplace design is just one way for beautifully branded experiences to take shape. Retail and hospitality spaces gain immeasurably when a brand story is infused into every element, solidifying brand identity, increasing foot traffic, boosting sales, generating buzz, and enhancing the customer experience. 

“Retail is a magical opportunity,” explains Brent Watts. People have a visceral and emotional reaction to physical places. Digital can play a part in brand experiences, he says, but for a brand to express its story at its fullest, it should take advantage of what incredible physical spaces do for people. And to them.

It explains why TripAdvisor reports that travelers are more likely to book at unconventional and inspiring places—and on top of that, unique and creative spaces command higher room rates and are likely to lead to more positive reviews and social media sharing. 

“Disneyland doesn’t have the best rides, or the best food. But people gladly spend so much money to be there because the experience unveils a new delight at every turn and weaves an ongoing story every step of the way. The cohesive experience is irresistable,” says Andrew Howlett. And that experience translates to $89B in annual revenue.

We’re here to bring 

STRKTR helps brands sleuth out each opportunity to do something different, something unexpected, something memorable at every turn. We immerse ourselves in your brand’s story, then spin it into a real world experience that does more than delight your audience … it builds loyalty, engagement, retention, publicity, and memorability.

“We make sure the intended audiences feel the brand is speaking right to them through the spatial experience,” says Brent Watts.

And whether that audience is your colleagues, your hotel guests, your retail visitors, the media, or anyone and everyone in between, you’ll know you created what all us humans crave and remember most: delight.