The Mall with a Soul

Client Brief

The evolution of the Shopping Mall

Elnòs Shopping is IKEA Group’s second Italian Shopping Center. Even with its name (a contraction of “El nòs”, meaning “ours” in the local dialect), the imposing structure poses itself as the evolution of the classic Shopping Mall concept, which tends to make us think of an unremarkable place, isolated and impersonal, devoid of any history or identity.

Since the time of its conception, on the other hand, Elnòs has sought to maintain a recognizable identity, with strong roots in the Brescia area. In addition to being a shopping center, boasting an 88,000 m2 mall area with 145 stores, it’s also a place where the entire family can meet, enjoy entertainment, and share experiences. On an increasingly diversified consumer market, often segmented by age, ethnicity and locality, it is necessary to offer experiences capable of creating connections between people. This pivotal concept of IKEA’s corporate philosophy is fulfilled by this new structure, which was built at the gates of Brescia, thanks to an investment of 200 million Euros, and employs about 1,000 people.

Based on these preconditions, the Touchwindow team was asked to create something innovative that’s never been seen before on the shopping mall scene: a Digital Environment dedicated to the visitors, designed to engage with them, entertain them, and provide them with information, offering each of them a different experience.


A place of connections and emotions

The design concept was to transform the shopping center into a place capable of connecting people and creating captivating experiences through Digital Engagement. Today, regardless of age, everyone is continuously interacting through digital devices, mainly smartphones. The design challenge was to offer the same kind of interactivity on a much larger scale, through technological tools and a multimedia infrastructure. A mass experience, yet one that’s tailored to each individual visitor.

This idea, which was immediately espoused by IKEA, led us to become involved in the project as early as the design stages, together with the architects, engineers and technical planners. The Digital Environment had to be consistent with the various areas, the furnishings, and the structure’s design, in order to provide the visitor with a cohesive and continuous experience.

We imagined a network with 36 installations throughout the entire structure, controlled, managed and updated in a simple and centralized manner.


A comprehensive physical/digital system

The design challenge was to harmoniously incorporate the digital devices by adapting their designs to the brand’s distinctive Swedish style. At the same time, we had to create a single network control structure that would incorporate various types of devices.

Working together with the clients, we came up with the digital engagement environments, with distinct areas being dedicated to entertainment, information, play and socialization. For each of them, we developed custom software solutions.

We designed the entire network infrastructure, from the social Wi-Fi to the digital signage system, the programming management software and the analysis dashboard. We implemented optical profiling systems to monitor the flow of visitors and to allow the center to perform analyses in order to improve its offering.


Different experiences for specific needs

Once the design had been finalized, we created the environments based on the experiences offered within the various parts of the structure. For the little ones, we included areas with interactive tables, where they can challenge themselves with exciting touch-screen games. In the relaxation areas, we included comfortable seating and small tables for reading digital newspapers. In the mall areas, we installed large Touch Walls capable of communicating with the visitors’ smartphones, bringing their experiences to social media and engaging young people in fun activities. A fully customized digital signage network was installed throughout the Mall in order to allow visitors to be provided with real time information and communications. We created an Interactive Directory with Wayfinding and Survey software.

All the hardware components were built in accordance with the strict safety standards required for high traffic areas, with the inclusion of 24-hour solutions. Each device was installed and incorporated in such a way that its functionality and software updates can be managed in a centralized manner.

Activation and Management

A constantly evolving digital ecosystem

Elnòs Shopping IKEA opened to the public on 22 September 2016, with an extraordinary public turnout. After its inauguration, we analyzed the various instruments and monitored their functionality for one month. The maintenance program currently consists of remote network monitoring sessions and extraordinary maintenance interventions upon the devices.

We’re particularly proud of this project, which marks an important step towards the renewal of the retail sector throughout Italy. In the words of the Shopping Center’s director, Umberto Marzini,  “Elnòs Shopping has posed itself from the very start as a meeting place for all people, a place of promotional activity, for exalting the numerous events that take place throughout the province of Brescia. A place where, in addition to shopping, people can also enjoy fun and educational experiences that are capable of creating long-lasting bonds.”

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