What Makes an Exhibition Space Great? Time and Sensory Stimulations!

Your Name
Jan 13, 2023 5:36 AM

Balboa Park, San Diego, CA

Need I say more??!! Balboa Park is one of North America’s most iconic urban parks and a must see! The park has a rich history reflected through its stunning architecture, thought-provoking exhibits installations, and cultural events. It’s 2000-acres of wonderful views. Besides historical open space areas, natural vegetation zones, green belts, gardens, and walking paths, it contains several museums, a few theaters, and even the San Diego Zoo.

The reasons of my appreciation include:

  1. Although people easily relate it to SF’s Golden Gate Park, I like Balboa more because it is “Instagrammable”. Hear me out — sure, the Golden Gate Park has a of trees and a ferris wheel, but there are no focal points and everything is very spread out, and just sooo green. But maybe some people like it. However, walking inside Balboa, you really do feel like you are in Spain (or Stanford!). Every step can provide you with beautiful backdrop, and the pond near the center of the park is where everyone takes pictures. So I like Balboa Park for its beautiful building structures and the right amount of vegetation, water, and lighting.
  2. There are many culturally inspired areas to explore so everyone can find something that they like. Buildings with different themes are fused together in a wonderful way. You won’t get bored spending several hours in the park!
  3. Although it’s rich in history, you can feel a vibrant and diverse culture endemic to San Diego. I don’t know how they did it and I can never design a thing like it. Maybe that's why it’s attractive: the whole area was built throughout time and time itself fascinates people.

The second space I find great is contemporary and accessible worldwide:

IKEA stores

As a kid, I enjoyed going to IKEA so much. And now as an adult, I like going there even more because now I have money to go on a shopping spree… IKEA, a brand beyond just a furniture store, has created a really great open exhibition space for families to eat, shop for everything you need at a fair price, and at the same time, make get inspirations from the sample rooms, rather than staring at each single item and try to imagine how they can fit together.

The Grugen Effect is how they make you buy more. This effect describes the moment people enter a store and are engrossed in an intentionally overwhelming experience. This causes them to forget their original target for going to the shop, so they tend to make more irrational decisions. Customers also lose track of time and become engrossed in this new experience. Thus, it is a pretty good strategy when designing for a mall.

  1. IKEA showrooms use a “fixed path” layout, like museums/zoos/botanical gardens. Throughout this experience customers are overexposed to light, sound, color, texture, and even smell in the store, producing dopamine that easily results in impulse buys.
  2. Beside the main show room, there are dozens of little rooms showing how products look in place. When customers are immersed in the rooms, they have a tangible idea of what the products can produce, thus more likely to buy a whole set of product being shown.
  3. The IKEA Food Court is cheap and decent — 30% of its shoppers come to the stores just to eat. I guess this is the strategy that can be applied to all exhibition places. To make people stay longer and to even visit the place, good resturants are definitely a plus. This also makes me remember when I was in Las Vegas, I sometimes just went to a hotel for a restaurant inside, but ended up playing poker.