Apsys is a real-estate development company founded almost 22 years ago by Maurice Bansay that operates in France and Poland, whose mission is making cities and urban life more beautiful by designing and bringing to life iconic living and shopping spaces. Its motto: Create and innovate with the end client in mind.
Eléonore Villanueva, Director of Marketing and Communication, told us more about her vision of retail both today and tomorrow.
What do you think your trademark is? What makes a space designed by Apsys different from other commercial spaces?
At Apsys, we strive to create new, experiential, generous, and surprising spaces that should also blend in perfectly with their surrounding environment. Each Apsys project has its own, very strong identity. For example, Beaugrenelle, in Paris’ 15th arrondissement, was designed using architectural and programmatic codes taken from department stores (verticality, passageways, product themes for each level), while Vill’Up, which is located in Paris’ 19th arrondissement, is doubly inspired by its location in the eastern part of the city as well as in the Parc de la Villette, leading to a space that is oriented around leisure activities and culture / families / creative boutiques (concept stores and creator stores).
Our trademarks are creativity and daring! We love getting involved with projects that are really unique. Our strength lies in clearing the way, being inventive, and creating original programming mixes that offer novel leisure opportunities as well as restaurants and shops that fit logically with the surrounding area. We created Apsys Lab to support our vision of permanent innovation and to not only be an internal think tank, but also a physical space that fosters dialogue within our new offices.
Can you tell us a little bit about this initiative?
Apsys Lab is an internal think tank, made up of company staff from all of the different departments. These employees work on a project basis, examining different topics, creating benchmarks for different sectors (not only in our industry), studying emerging trends, and meeting with innovative start-ups and service providers to source and launch creative solutions that can be implemented at our sites (operational projects and assets). For example, the Posnania project, in Poland, made use of the Lab’s work when creating a service policy and in general when designing the customer journey. Apsys Lab is an engine that drives us to keep our pioneering spirit, our propensity to “think different” that has set Apsys apart since its creation. It’s also a means for cultivating talent and engaging with our staff!
What do you think retail will be like in the future? What transformations can we expect, especially in terms of commercial spaces?
More and more, we are thinking about space experientially. Today, we need to focus on bringing people together, on small moments of pleasure, of surprise, all while remaining hyper-functional. That is why we’re doing a lot of work with pop-up shops, which are a way to freshen up the shopping experiences offered by a site and to meet seasonal needs. Consumers want to be surprised, they want good experiences, no matter how they’re visiting a site: alone for a quick shopping trip or with their partner, their children, or with friends for a fun, relaxing time. That is why we’ve seen restaurant-oriented development trending, in all its many forms. Every person should be able to make the most of the space, based on their habits, their needs, and their expectations at that moment. Because art can generate powerful emotions, we’ve also developed a rich artistic portfolio, with 4 pieces of art created especially for our latest project, Muse, by renowned artists including Julio Le Parc, a master of kinetic art.
What concrete actions have you taken to meet these new expectations?
Muse, which opened its doors in Metz last November, includes a practical and welcoming coworking space for passengers from the TGV station (which is quite close) and users of the future Palais des Congrès (convention centre), currently under construction. Due to its proximity to the TGV station, there are large numbers of commuters passing by, with many visitors leaving from the station to work in Luxembourg every day. For us, it was important to welcome these people into a pleasant space where they can work, charge their mobile phone, catch up on the news, access services like document printing, and also have a quick lunch or appreciate a work of art. Because consumers cycle through several different lives throughout the day, we try to give these spaces hybrid purposes.
Is it safe to say that the commercial space of tomorrow will need to not only make the consumer’s life easier, but also offer them novel experiences?
Exactly. From my point of view, both dimensions are very important. The customer journey needs to be smooth, pleasant, and welcoming to protect the visitor from any micro-stresses and to help them feel good within the space. They need to be able to park their car and find their vehicle again easily (if they’ve come in a car) or have easy access to public transport. They need to be able to find their way through the space, to access the product information and news that interests them, and to make the most of practical services and generous spaces (that are adapted to their needs), among other things. They must also be allowed to live out intense and entirely novel experiences: attending art exhibits or performances, interacting with innovative digital content, discovering spectacular settings, participating in workshops or activities, and we need to invite them to share these experiences on social networks. Digital technology and commercial products feed into these two dimensions.
Besides Muse, Posnania has services (lounge, valet parking, try and collect, and personal shoppers) and also original digital tools and ways to experience works of art that make it a good example of this mix of experience and comfort that makes some spaces into iconic locations!