2nd June 2014

Belle-Ile to get an extension and upgrade by Air


Belle-Ile shopping centre, located in Liege, Belgium, is getting a brand and interiors upgrade along with a 6,000-sqm extension. Air is delighted to have been recently appointed by Wereldhave Belgium as lead concept designer and architect for the project.  The centre was opened in 1994 and currently hosts 96 shops across 20,000 sqm providing its visitors with a pleasant shopping experience in a welcoming atmosphere. The extension will introduce new double-height stores along  as well as a number of cafes and restaurants with terraces and a river-view.


29th May 2014

Refreshing brand and signage for Cevahir


Cevahir is not only one of the largest shopping malls in world with a GLA of 110,000 sqm but also, arguably, the most commercially successful in Istanbul. It has mass market appeal as and attracts a significant proportion of middle class customers. Air was appointed to refresh the brand as well as create a strategy and design for new wayfinding and signage. The centre is currently home to over 300 stores on 6 levels, providing its visitors with an extensive entertainment offer and 2,500 parking places for convenience.

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27th May 2014

Air creates brand stories for Corio Germany

What’s a brand story? Put simply, it’s the story a brand tells it’s customers or visitors through all of it’s touch points. We like to call it the DNA of the brand. It couldn’t be more important. If you get the brand story wrong, it like having a car using the wrong fuel. But get it right and you have the opportunity to build a strong brand that really resonates with customers.

At Air we believe in making this brand story central to the development of any project, whether it’s a logo design, signage strategy, interior refreshment or architecture. We are taking this approach with Corio for asset management and marketing across their German portfolio. After successfully completing development of a brand story for Boulevard Berlin we’ve followed this with strategic work for Centrum Galerie in Dresden and Arneken Galerie in Hildesheim. All three are in implementation phases now. Watch this space for the results, as the new stories start coming to life…

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21st May 2014



AIR’s first steps in the Middle East were to design the interior of an upcoming new retail destination in Dubai, soon to become the new talk of the town. It is called THE MALL.

The brief was to be refreshingly different and stand out from Dubai’s existing shopping offer.

Located in the most attractive part of town, on Jumeirah beach road frontage, the priority was for the interior to reflect the brand’s personality: a unique destination and human scale. From creating the layout of the mall in the very early stages giving the mall a welcoming and friendly atmosphere was our aim; to facilitate the user experience.


The interior look and feel is very graphic referencing the angular shapes reminiscent of the brand logo from floor to ceiling. Cafés and rest areas are spread across the mall complimenting the architecture with a natural colour palette of sandy tones and blues that seem to merge beautifully with the landscape. A water feature emerges from the sides of the escalators creating a wow-factor and bringing the place to life. It appears to continue flowing down to the car park inviting the customers up.

By using similar elements and colours inside and outside, it brings coherence to the building as opposed to a blind box approach. Again making you feel more welcome… Coming soon…


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20th May 2014

Signage for AVIA PARK is on the way

AMMA Development has appointed Air to design wayfinding and signage for the shopping and entertainment centre AVIA PARK.

The scheme is located on the North-west of Moscow and has 231,000 sqm of GLA. The centre will host over 500 stores across 4 levels as well as 7,000 car spaces over 2 parking levels.

Air will develop the wayfinding strategy, product and graphic design for all the signs inside and outside the centre. The opening of the centre is planned for Q4 2014.

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19th May 2014

Evening talk at the V&A – Kengo Kuma


Air senior designer Jean-Charles Jeanneau has attended a talk of famous Japanese architect Kengo Kuma at V&A. Here is a glimpse of what was discussed.

Recently appointed to design the V&A of Dundee, Kengo Kuma presented not only his work but his philosophy as an architect and of course the latest visuals of his first project in the UK. He describes his work as strongly inspired by the environment, constantly looking for the prefect harmony between the architecture and the place. His early work seems to disappear in the landscape preserving the beauty of the environment, and not the least, the building itself when comes the Tsunami!


Talking about respect of the mountain, reconnecting the local community with the spiritual aspect of the place where they leave and using sustainable material from the site to minimise carbon footprint, seems to be the way forward and one can only agree with these principles.


Another aspect of his work is the constant research about structure, mixing traditional techniques such as Japanese toys or bamboo strengths and experimenting new ways of creating buildings. Such as the GC Prostho museum research centre or the Yusuhara Wooden Bridge Museum in Japan.


Yusuhara Wooden Bridge Museum

GC Prostho Museum Temple

When it comes to the V&A of Dundee, one can relate to the layers of the cliff, combining city and nature but whether it is going to be bringing this emotional connection that his early work has so beautifully revealed, only time will say…

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14th May 2014

Barcelona – the city of art, design and food

In the beginning of May, Air Russia Director Elena Rozanova went to Barcelona to enjoy good weather, amazing food and inspiring architecture. Here she shares some of her photos from the trip as well as some ideas on places to visit.

Barcelona is a great mixture of people, buildings, small cafes and loud night-clubs. Barcelona’s city life is balanced by number of beaches where you can relax after a day and night of culture-hopping! It is vibrant and easy-going as well as caring and welcoming. I must admit that it is now one of my favourite cities.

If you have a few days in Spain’s fine city and wonder where to have brunch, go straight to the Milk Bar & Bistro Restaurant (Carrer d’En Gignàs, 21). They serve big tasty meals that will keep your energy levels high throughout the day.


And for the dinner try a small privately-owned restaurant Cera 23 at Carrer de la Cera, 23. One can kill for their Blackberry Mochito!

Barcelona Cera23

My last restaurant suggestion would be La Paradeta (Carrer Comercial, 7 – next to Mercat del Born). It is more like a sea-food fast-food if that category exists. They are only open a few hours a day, so suggest you get there in advance to get a table at all. It is amazingly tasty and very inexpensive with helpful and welcoming staff.


If you are into museums, I advise you to purchase your tickets online in advance. It will save you enormous amount of worry and time. Who wants to queue for the Museum of Picasso for two hours when entry can take two minutes?

I really liked street art in Barcelona. It is full of bright colours and interesting characters. A few of my favourites





Being a part of design, architecture and signage company, I pay attention to unique buildings and shopfronts, funny signs. Here are some from Barcelona





Well.. you can definitely get a lot of useful information from many websites and guides so hope by now you are excited enough to book a ticket and go for a long weekend to amazing, inspiring and charming Barcelona! Enjoy and share your photos with us!

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13th May 2014

May plans


May is a busy month for the studio as well as our sales and marketing team.

We are attending ICSC European Marketing Seminar (14-16th May in Amsterdam) and then back to London to visit numerous events.

First is May Design Series held in ExCel on 18-20th May.

Then our team will attend Clerkenwell Design Week. This event attracts many established and new designers who participate in workshops, talks and presentations. This year dates are 20, 21 and 22 of May.

Join us at any of the above!

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12th May 2014

Free pitching – is it cheap or expensive?

Alan Robertson, CEO of Air, shares his views on free pitching and whether it is good or bad path to take.

The debate surrounding the insidious ’free pitch’ continues in much the same vein as it did when I started in the design consultancy industry some 20 years ago. I rather suspect that in another twenty years we’ll still be talking about it.

It may be a slightly contrary view but I think ‘the free pitch’ it has more to do with market economics than anything else. My experience has shown me that there appears to be more designers than projects. Thus we have an oversupply and how clients make selection decision has more to do with the designers than perhaps they think.

A huge generalisation I know, but if we were to place designers into the two groups, generalists and specialists, it would highlight an important issue. By this I mean specialism by client industry sectors, rather than design disciplines. I believe that this generalism is the root of the problem. Experienced design buyers seek out specialists, the less experienced struggle with this.

In a market where there is oversupply and deep commonality between products or offers, the customer will have the option to try before they buy. Consider cars. If you were to buy a new car and you were offered 5 almost identical models from 5 different manufacturers. How would you decide what to buy? They all look the same, most have 4 wheels, they all do the A to B bit well and have similar costs and specifications. You’d almost certainly want to test drive them – which means the manufacturer would need to build them first.

So my view is that generalist design consultants, with little to differentiate themselves from others, operate in a commodity market where a customer can only differentiate by test driving the product – so this means asking for design first and then making a selection on who to work with based on this. Websites like Crowdspring and 99design are widely loathed by the design conginscenti, but they are simply a function of a oversupplied market. Essentially, a ‘try before you buy’ approach.

Clients have less and less time and need to make faster decisions. They simply don’t have enough time to look into your soul and discover your genius. What they need is a consultant who can quickly demonstrate outstanding creative standards and show a deep level of expertise in the client business. When they find this partner they tend to really value them. Sometimes the conversation swings away from pitching over to exclusivity agreements.

So, are you a generalist? If so, it’s bad news I’m afraid. Free pitching will remain in your world; supply, demand and market economics aren’t going away. Importantly, free pitching, whilst giving the illusion of being a cheap smart way to buy design, does not produce great design work. That’s is a hard fact, and it also a fact that in the long run, bad design work is expensive.

My belief is that great design comes from a deep immersion and specialisation in a subject. A great designer balances this with a keen world view which enables him to contextualise his work. This takes dedication and considerable practice before both the skill levels and knowledge base are strong enough. It also requires a visionary client to recognise this, one who trusts the design process and his design team.

But, the eventual result can be really great design work, not just different but genuinely better. From a client business perspective it is this great design work that is cheap and that’s another hard fact.


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17th April 2014

Zielony Park Handlowy to be revitalized by Air

Air has been recently appointed to create new branding, signage and 3D elements for Zielony Park Handlowy, a 25,000 GLA scheme located on Glebocka Street, Targowek in Warsaw. It is targeted at families and local people, with a predominantly discount/convenience/household offer comprising:

•  8 units (including Castorama and Saturn, to potentially be split into 15)

•  Parking for 720 cars

•  Extensive green areas, wildlife and a stream

The land surrounding the scheme is set to change with the development of new apartments and potentially a new metro station further down the line. It is well located beside Atrium Targowek, and only a short distance from IKEA and M1, which serve to generate significant footfall.

The objective of the new branding and signage is first of all to build a strong and consistent identity for the scheme. Revitalisation of the asset and improving its visibility through impactful signage will also help with leasing the empty units.


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