In my opinion, the best malls in the world are in Dubai, Seoul, and Bangkok. What do I mean by ‘best’? Good tenant mixes, amenities, facilities, and above all, retail experiences that don’t feel like typical malls. They feel like other worlds.
Bangkok’s malls are the best in the world in terms of design. The city itself is underrated in terms of design.
My favorite space here is the 6th floor of the Central Embassy mall and I’ve pasted in a gratuitous amount of images for it below. The floor is a food hall/market + bookstore. It also hosts a kids cafe, “co-thinking” space, and a cinema at one of its far ends.
The detail on the ceilings. The interspersed foliage. The lighting, especially under the shelves. The lighting of the wood panels and under the bars. The color of the wood.
This section where I’m standing in the below picture is the ‘out-of-print’ section and houses antique and rare books. The fact that they dedicated an entire wall to this…well, thank you.
The “co-thinking” space.
This is what the Central Embassy looks like from the outside. Outside, the design is just as gratuitous as it is inside. Not gratuitous in the sense of frivolous or excessive, but gratuitous, as in overdelivering beyond expectations. If you go there, don’t miss the other food court in the basement, which might also be one of the best food courts in the world.
Pictures of other mall/retail spaces. A futuristic, space-age apothecary, just a typical perfume and fragrances counter.
The men’s-wear section in the same mall.
The rest of that mall. Again, gratuitous. I wish there was a better word than that connoting overdelivery, but that’s what these malls are. You cannot calculate a direct ROI on spending money on design like this. But the malls in Bangkok do it anyway, and for that, I feel gratitude.
Standing on the ground level, I like how you can clearly see all three floors above you have a distinct character and pattern.
Food courts of the world are in general moving towards the food market/hall concept, which makes it look more authentic – food carts and kiosks arranged over the floor like they arrived there organically. But probably outside of Bangkok, you cannot get decent, filling meals for less than $3, like you can here.