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Further anchoring the South Korean capital’s stature as a leading shopping destination, the much-publicised opening of shopping centre The Hyundai Seoul – an event we covered in a previous post – introduced a slew of novelties to the city’s discerning shoppers. One of the innovations presented here is Uncommon Store, a retail concept without any staff which hints what supermarkets and convenience stores could look like in the future. The store has been concepted by Hyundai IT&E, the IT solution service unit of retail giant Hyundai Department Store Group, and is designed by local architecture and design studio Atelier Archi@Mosphere. Before entering, shoppers are required to install an app by scanning a QR code indicated on a board next to the entrance. After registration and login, payments will be automatically registered and processed, so cash and no bank card is required.

Interestingly, Uncommon Store has been set up with Millennials and Generation Z in mind, two demographics which the initiators believe have frantically driven change in consumer behaviour in recent years, including the realm of (online) shopping, and which will continue to do so in coming years. The chosen design aesthetic, retro futuristic, ties in with a current hot trend among young consumers in Seoul, and sees the façade and interior wrapped in bands reminiscent of neon straps commonly used for the exteriors of theatres in the 1960s. Indoors, the bands form tiered shelving, but also illuminate the premises and regulate all unmanned systems. Obviously, Uncommon Store is wired like no other retail space to enable this new way of shopping—a cloud system and internet hyper connections, ICT, AI complex sensors, and machine learning techniques, all has been taken care of by Amazon Web Services and is fully integrated in the design.

But that’s not all. Furthermore, IoT forms a two-way communication between the space and its users, allowing storage and reload of the shopper’s purchases and consumption habits. But let’s go back to the design, shall we? Laminate surfaces on the patterned ceiling extend from the strap, enhancing the futuristic feeling, and so do the use of industrialised materials such as metal, acrylic, and retro colour schemes. So, what’s on the shelves? Uncommon Store is a convenience store, but one with a playful twist when it comes to the merchandise. Expect to find anything from toothpaste to fresh fruits, and snacks to soft drinks, but also items such as Kodak instant cameras, and local convenience store Nice Weather offers its own selection of goods in the store.

Designed by Atelier Archi@Mosphere
Images © Atelier Archi@Mosphere

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