Gone are the days when people had to buy different things from different places. People would visit local Kirana stores for purchasing daily-required household materials, and go to some other local markets for buying clothes. Shopping was never as convenient for people as it is now. The shopper gets the experience of one stop shop. From apparels to FMCG goods, the consumer gets leisure time visiting malls. Each store offers an individual a wide variety be it for choosing a stationery pen or a laptop. One of the reasons for the existence of mall culture is globalization.
Products and brands from various places, cultures and communities are under one roof. One of the central features of conventional shopping areas and stores has been their uni-dimentionality. Local festivals and events are given special importance within the mall world. Festivals often become the occasion of greater consumption and are also reflected in the fashion trends of the season. The globalization of culture defines the reshaping of public space in the city. The new cosmopolitan lifestyles, represented in the cosmopolitan culture, now demands new kinds of spaces that reflect global diversity, product range and cultures.
The look and feel of the malls is a clear reflection of the cosmopolitan lifestyle that we follow. The lavish use of glass in all these malls suggests possibilities and is future directed. When a person looks in or out of a shop they encounter yet another in the form of a reflection. It creates a sense of hyperrealism which is also seen in the fluid designs often adopted for walls and floors. Time and weather conditions do not really matter since the lighting, arrangement of spaces and the controlled environment makes it very real. Malls are ahistorical and postmodern secular in nature.
While the streets of any city carry markers of history, the mall lives exclusively in the present. The use of plastic, glass, PVC, etc, further shows its contemporary existence. Freed of the spaces of religion caste, class the mall is a substitute for the secure spaces for religion and social grouping. The mall marks pedestrianization of space. As soon as we enter a mall it gives a clear list of directions. Each area is well demarcated which directs the public easily to their destination. The space between various sections inside the stores is reduced thus increasing the outer walking space which runs across the entire complex.
The construction of the malls is such that one store leads to the other and not very easily to the exit. The mall is an escape, separated from the rest of the city. It is a sanitized standalone space set apart from the city’s dirt, pollution, chaos and traffic. Another important aspect of the malls is strict security which keeps undesired elements out and directs parking. It caters to the smooth functioning of the mall. When a shopper goes to a mall he gets to choose from a wide range of goods and products. The mall is there for a space of display where goods are arranged for maximum visual appeal.
In other words the arrangement of goods hass to be attractive enough to instill desire for particular products so that the shopper will purchase the same. Spectacle, attention holding and desire are the central elements of the shopping experience of the mall. Thus visual appeal is very important in the structure of the mall. The presence of models and posters constitute the spectacular fantasy. In a mall there is constant display of consumption where one is surrounded by large size posters of attractive men and women, cozy families and energetic youth.
An individual gets the illusion of acquiring perfection as embodied in these images. The spectacle can be experienced not only visually but also through the sense of touch. The trying on of clothes and accessories, handling the objects, performing actions give us a theoretical experience. The spectacle effect is also achieved through the vistas that open out at every level within a mall. Huge balconies and viewing points at every floor enable one to survey large sections of the store. It suggests a sense of choice – where to go? What to buy? We have a prospect of shopping unveiled before us.
The mall is also hybrid in another sense, it is a place for shopping and of social interaction. It is not uncommon to see the mall’s spaces transformed into spaces of youth culture, with youngsters meeting friends for an evening. A lot of space in the malls is occupied by food courts and entertainment zones where people of all age groups come to eat, drink, chill and relax. All this adds to the footfall in the malls. Food courts in malls provide a wide range of options which represent the global village of food culture. One can choose from Chinese, Italian, Indian or Mexican the list is endless.
Malls, have either cinemas, game space or spas for leisure and recreation. In fact it can be argued that shopping is only one of the several purposes of a mall and leisure is central to its very structure, style and organization. Leisure shopping i. e. pleasure shopping for non essentials is an important aspect of the mall culture . A stroll through the mall which might lead to an actual purchase is about the pleasure of the stroll of spectacle and secure environment. The constant pipe of the music is part of the malls attempt to ensure that we see it as space of relaxation and leisure.
However it is not that the mall is exclusively the producers design. In spite of the wide variety that a mall offers there is always a lack of individuality since all brands are available in different sizes and often in different colors. With the increasing number of malls and the ever increasing brands in those malls one can often spot a lot of people wearing the same clothes. As you get more, you want even more! this is the exact phenomenon which takes place in malls. There is no end to our constantly increasing desires. This often is a result of the immense visual appeal done by the malls.
To grab the attention of more and more customers thousands of rupees are spent every month to add to the look of the place. Hence an immense and quite unnecessary amount of electricity that is used to lighten up the malls results in lack of electricity in places where it is essentially required. The customers decoding is only limited to the producers encoding. This is because a person cannot have more than what has been designed by the producer. From just shopping to an all in one package, malls are one place where more is less.
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