How Elastic Environments Save Time And Resources For Everyone [My Ideal City]

How Elastic Environments Save Time And Resources For Everyone [My Ideal City]

PSFK chats with Rachel Shechtman, founder of STORY, about how elastic environments are positively impacting urban development.

  • 7 april 2013

As part of our My Ideal City series looking at the future of cities, PSFK reached out to experts to get their take on key trends we’ve identified that are currently affecting urban environments. Rachel Shechtman is founder of STORY, a location refining brick and mortar retail by creating a store that is meant to be changed frequently to suit a range of different styles, use cases and needs. She spoke with about how elastic environments in cities are developing to accommodate a wide a range of use cases, transforming any environment into a multi-use destination that attracts a mix of demographics.

What impact does this trend of elastic environments have on the development of cities, particularly in the context of retail?

Before we talk about what we are designing, I think it would be helpful to answer the questions of what are we designing for? Why is designing for flexibility important? TIME! I see this as being the greatest luxury of all, now more than ever, especially in fast-paced urban environments.  We have less time for leisure than ever and have more things competing for our time and therefore our attention.

How does the retail concept at STORY exemplify an elastic environment, and how does the affect the consumer experience?

At STORY we look at evolving the retail experience to include content and community (not just commerce); we hope to add more ‘return on investment’ for someone’s time investment in our environment.   Yes, you can buy a gift…but you can also take a yoga class at STORY Wellness or pasta making during STORY New York or 3D printing workshop at STORY Making Things.  I think the future of urban environments could benefit from a similar approach.

In what ways would you like to see urban environments becoming more ‘elastic’? Can you think of any other creative design solutions that demonstrate this concept?

I believe we need to think beyond the idea of a restaurant being just for eating or a gym just for working out or a supermarket just for buying groceries.  In NYC, just look at Duane Reade drug stores, which is now offering manicures and a beer filling growler station at some of its locations.  Design needs to be open to accommodate more things in fewer spaces.  At the end of the day we eat, sleep, get dressed, talk, walk and do a myriad of other things every day (if we are lucky).  Therefore, the more environments and spaces can address multiple needs and tasks in a simple, relevant and accessible way, the more we will all benefit.

Thanks Rachel!

Check out Rachel’s talk at PSFK CONFERENCE NYC:

Rachel Shechtman: How I See Retail As Publishing from Piers Fawkes on Vimeo.

Q. What space in your city could be used for another purpose other than which it was created?

Submit your answer now at the MyIdealCity site – or tweet your suggestion using #MyIdealCity and #Maximizedspace


Over the next 6 months, PSFK and a team of experts imaging the future of a city will be asking you what you envision as ‘My Ideal City’. Tweet us your ideas using the hashtag of the week and view all the submissions at the MyIdealCity site.


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