This week, Dufry Group opened 2,540sq m of new retail space and revealed its first New Generation Store in Latin America at Cancún International Airport.

Taylor: Local design themes and cutting-edge come together in Cancún

The 1,900sq m New Generation Store offers travellers a “more personalised shopping experience through digital communication” noted Dufry. 

Nick Taylor, Director of The Design Solution, the specialist airport retail design agency contributing to the project, outlines the design concept for the Cancún stores and the commercial drivers behind it.

The Cancún Duty Free store designs are strongly focused on a mixture of key elements, particularly on the culture and craftsmanship of the Mayans, vibrant local markets, pulsating nightlife and the natural beauty of the coastline, explained The Design Solution Director Nick Taylor.

The local design themes are blended with a major focus on leading-edge digital technology, including large-scale digital screens that not only enhance customisation but can also be used to consolidate the local spirit of the spaces.

An explosion of Mexican colour and energy greets passengers at Cancún Duty Free

“In the recently opened Terminal 4, the store concept is a fusion of colour, pattern and form and the first and unmistakable impression is the explosion of Mexican colour and energy that greets the visitor, drawn to the store by a series of colour cables set in front of contrasting charcoal grey walls flanking the entrance to the store. The cables have accent sections of colour led neon that form letters spelling out welcome messages,” he described.

Stepping into the retail area the key focus is the centrally-positioned Tequiliera, reflecting the spirit’s importance both to Mexico’s heritage and its role as a key sales driver.  In design terms, the Tequileria canopy was The Design Solution’s starting point, which subtly influences the whole space.

The majestic Tequiliera sits at the centre of the retail area, highlighting the spirit’s importance

“It’s an eye-catching centrepiece formed from a series of undulating, vertical printed fabric banners in vibrant colours and it also incorporates Mayan symbols to celebrate the height of the space,” said Taylor.  Positioned below the fabric banners, the blend of ancient and modern Mexico is neatly expressed by a digital ribbon screen for advertising and promotion that encircles the Tequileria.

The Mayan influence makes a bold statement in the key confectionery category

The emphasis on colour throughout the space is partly inspired by the iconic ‘Cancún’ beach sign but more so by over 3,000 years of the traditional Mexican weaving looms and their beautiful textiles. “For example, we use vibrant local colours to create focus over the key feature areas while more subtle patterning, derived from Mayan textiles, feature on decorative screens, banners and walls.”

“These local design themes are blended with a major focus on leading-edge digital technology.”– The Design Solution Director Nick Taylor

The design seeks to echo different local themes within each product category, creating a distinct identity for each while consolidating the cohesion across the whole space. For example, with confectionery being a key local the category, the space has a high-level bulkhead formed from terracotta tile-sets arranged in a bookend format and the ceiling features a Mayan pattern motif in inlaid gold, creating a bold statement.

Sharing stories of Mexico: An intriguing mix of local themes complements the local foods and specialities area

Fixtures in the ‘Taste of Mexico’ area also take inspiration from the colour and style of the ‘Cancún’ beach sign, with simple block tables faced alternately in timber and colour planes to create a lively environment for the range of local foods and specialties on display. Across the space, the designers have used a range of local themes – from wrestling masks to Mayan architecture to the art of the Day of the Dead – all sharing genuine stories of Mexico.

Local themes are treated with sincerity and respect in order to engage the discerning traveller

“I think it’s crucial that the design adopts local themes with sincerity and respect. Modern travellers are not fools, they instinctively know when they’re encountering simplistic touristic clichés and they’re eager to discover an authentic local experience that resonates with them,” said Taylor.

“By engaging them in authentic local storytelling we can use design to create great retail experiences that influence their shopping behaviour, drive revenue and enhance the whole airport experience. That’s why The Design Solution was delighted to support Dufry and airport operator ASUR in designing the new space at Cancún International Airport.

“Cancún is a dynamic and innovative location where Dufry and the airport management team have grasped the need for travel retail to move beyond simply creating a basic Sense of Place to developing a genuine and engaging expression of local life, culture and heritage.”