Woods Bagot has appointed Frank Alvarez - recognised worldwide for revolutionising the shopping experience - as its Global Retail Leader.

Alvarez has been a key contributor to the evolution of shopping, with work on a number of high-profile projects, including the renowned Westfield Sydney.

“Frank’s appointment signals a strategic move, both regionally and globally, to build the best industry teams in each sector to provide consulting, interiors and architecture expertise across high-end markets and mixed use developments” said Mark Mitcheson-Low, Woods Bagot director and regional executive chairman. “We are turning each element to achieve surpassed outcomes for developers, investors and stakeholders.”

Westfield Sydney

Westfield Sydney, a project which revitalised Sydney’s CBD

Alvarez will be tasked with growing the retail capability of Woods Bagot through his trademark approach which sees architecture and design becoming an integral part of the shopping experience.

Alvarez has advanced the evolution of the concept of public space, helping to turn it into an environment that contains retail elements. His store designs move beyond materials, colour and furniture to what a store can offer in addition to its point of sale: experience, technology and ambiance.

“I believe a consumer-centric design process is the key to retailer success, vibrant social spaces, and unlocking value,” he said. “I am passionate about the retail experience; its relation to urban and suburban form, and the integration of technology and media into these environments – architecture, design and technology embracing retailer and consumer desires.”

Wine Shop in New York

A wine shop in New York offers consumers a digital sommelier service

With more than two decades of experience in retail design, Alvarez has delivered complex large-scale and award winning shopping precincts around the globe.

The majority of his career has been spent leading design teams for Westfield Group, overseeing landmark projects such as Westfield Garden State Plaza (USA), Westfield Bondi Junction (Sydney), Westfield Chermside (Brisbane) and Westfield Sydney.

His experimentation and innovations were first implemented in Australia and then used on other projects in California, Derby London and Stratford.

“The culmination of Frank’s Westfield experience is embodied in the global flagship for the Westfield Group – Westfield Sydney,” Woods Bagot said. “Frank was at the helm of planning, vision direction and retailer design integration from conception through to completion of this iconic development.”

Technology to embed retail

Technology such as tablets are now used as points of sale

Westfield Sydney was designed to revitalise the city centre and closely connects with the urban landscape offering 300 metres of retail street frontage. This helped the centre’s objective to draw people back into the CBD not only to shop but to participate in activities within and outside the precinct.

Alvarez offered some retail design directions he is observing in Australia.

“The major direction or response is to become an extension of consumer lifestyles by providing authentic and relevant experiences,” he said. “These experiences must engage, gather and connect people, express a regional personality and operate on a digitally connected platform.”

Alvarez added that retailers are working to create spaces that not only reflect their brands but their locations within the precinct.

“Retail experiences are now emerging as organic surprise filled environments,” he said. “This is not unlike the evolution of any street environment, where various usages emerge with different appearances while adhering to size and limit controls. Collaboration occurs while deriving design parameters to work within and the encouragement of unique outcomes.”

Burberry London's Interactive Display

Burberry London’s interactive display

Currently, Alvarez is consulting across projects in Australia, Asia and North America, including Woods Bagot’s portfolio of major mixed use and aviation related retail projects.