Giorgio Borruso’s Tech-Driven MARS Spotlights Retail Automation
Remember the Chicago pop-up ShopWithMe, featured in this magazine last year? Giorgio Borruso Design’s prefabricated, flexible, mobile unit presented a seamless melding of physical and virtual retail, thanks to technology developed by the company WithMe. The next phase in the concept’s evolution is MARS, as in Micro-Automated Retail Store.
Like its predecessor, MARS is customizable and modular. It can be as small as 100 square feet, with rectangular volumes added in 10-square-foot-long increments. Forming the walls and ceiling, vertical fins of painted marine-grade plywood alternate with clear acrylic panels. “The fins are straight on the inside, to support shelving, and contoured on the outside,” Giorgio Borruso explains. Technology enabling touch-screen browsing is embedded in mirrored wall panels. Wiring runs underneath the flooring, which is birch plywood. So are the benches and display fixtures.
Borruso has collaborated with the real-estate investment trust Macerich on the rollout. This 300-square-foot version appeared at a Los Angeles shopping mall, Santa Monica Place. There are six more elsewhere in the city in addition to units in Chicago, Washington, New York, and Portland, Oregon. Their smaller size, compared to the ShopWithMe pop-up, is designed with the common areas of shopping malls specifically in mind. In other words, these MARS landings are meant to activate spaces that are high-traffic but underused.