The design of the mall itself has some nice elements, far from the simple overlit halls of most existing shopping centres. It has lots of lovely curves and soft wooden sections to break up the general monotony of rows of shops. But how necessary is the design for the general shopping experience? Personally I can't see it making a difference in my choice to travel an extra mile to go shopping.
One other small niggle concerning its clean lines became quickly apparent - the lack of signage perpendicular to the shop fronts. Picky? Well yes maybe. But locating a shop in there is a bit of a needle in haystack at the best of times, but the simple curved corridors can leave you longing for a bloody simple sign to show you what shop to expect coming up.
Anyway even though my visit was mainly based around the purchase of clothes (Hennes/Jimmy Choo a no for me thank you very much) I was pleasantly surprised by the highstreet interiors shops that also lurked within. Two in particular caught my eye.
I was very pleased to have the time to spend checking out the Habitat, it felt like a bonus one that has slipped passed me somehow! Even though it didn't seem to be the full range that I love to peruse in the huge store like Tottenham Court Road; it was the perfect size and set up for a mall based showroom, with great selection of accessories and it had a very handy 20% sale on. The sale actually came as a bit of a relief after the lack of them in all the annoyingly full priced clothes shops - am getting far too used to the constant sales of the credit crunch...must get prepared for comeback of 17.5% vat...
Another highstreet fave that didn't let me down was the Zara Home dedicated store. I was, as usual, loving the muted tones and hints of Moroccan subtle glamour of the range. But my practical self was even more delighted with the sensible pared down stacking system floor-to-ceiling at the back of the showroom (geek!) It meant that all the silver napkins rings, elegant coat hooks and fluffy bathmats are easy to see and reach (for most, yet not so much for the, ahem, height challenged like me). Still I think the practicality of this didn't lose the store its stylish look as the sensible stainless steel stacked shelves actually looked very chic filled with all the fab Zara Home goodies you're bound to want to admire.
The mall is laid out so the interiors shops are all in the same strip making it an easier shop. It did mean my friends dragged me into a Dwell which didn't really 'do' it for me - not very keen on their patterns which are quite prevalent in the store. It may have just been the girly shopping with a hangover that put me off though...
So well done Westfield. A generally stylish change from the depressing shopping centres that haunted my youth. Along with a good show from highstreet interiors stores too. Just please turn the heating down next time I'm there?