It’s almost a prerequisite that shopping centers have to become more of an “experience” in order to draw consumers away from their online shopping carts and into actual stores. Real estate company Brookfield Properties has taken this to heart with “The Wishing Forest,” a holiday-themed installation that’s transformed two of its prime mall properties into interactive winter wonderlands.
Portland-based creative shop Two Things, along with Brooklyn-based art installation group Red Paper Heart, outfitted retail centers The SoNo Collection in Norwalk, CT and Natick Mall in Natick, MA with the experience, consisting of five “groves” that shoppers can interact with in a variety of ways.
In the Whispering Wishes Grove, visitors reveal their wishes to sound-capture trees, triggering mystical sounds to fill the forest. The Giving Grove is a whimsical area featuring charming chiming “games” that reveal the playful path of coins to the donation box.
Shoppers who walk through the Holiday Bells Grove are treated to a responsive light-and-sound show, which grows more layered as other visitors join in, and another main attraction is “The Wishing Tree,” where visitors place their wishes for the holidays in an ornamental pinecone, setting off a dazzling, tinkling light display. Of course, Santa will be there as well, in the Memory Grove outfitted with an Instagrammable backdrop.
“From a design standpoint, it’s all about flow and setting the stage for people from different walks of life and different interests come together to participate, wander at their own pace, and lose their sense of time and space,” said Lizzy Sonenfeld, creative director of Two Things in a statement. The experience aims to “play on feelings of nostalgia, encourage connection, and explore the concept of peace and calm through play rather than escape.”