We have been invited by our friend a collaborator William Griffith II of Region 3 Design: http://www.region3design.com, to join him on a panel discussion at the Hong Kong Retail Expo 2010 last week. As we are not "specialized" retail designers, our initial reaction to the request was as simple and as simplistic as defining, how can our core expertise can contribute to the discussion about retail: As all our projects are investigating, based on research on current user groups for our designs and potential future target users, how to increase the performance of each project, we chose the two extreme approaches, which cross influence each other in the office: Urban Planning and Interior Design. Both are very closely defined by program as well as organization of space (and in that sense they are much more spatial than architecture, which has retreated into the realm of shape and facade) and have taught us a lot about the logic and sequence of how to create a place: We believe, that the value experience of a place has to be based on a stronger understanding of the context and the very local habits. Other than the universal brand identity, which pours its habits onto anywhere, we think, identity comes from a local understanding of habits, user groups and aesthetics. The projects we were talking about were conveying these strategies of thinking: 3LT, which was creating an outdoor shopping mall for Beijing (where shopping malls have been failing all the time), combining the village with the one operator policy: and W-Spa, the largest spa in Asia (in 2004) inside the W-Hotel in Seoul, which was based on diversity and complexity of spatial sequence.