Ruscio Studio redesigns Loto-Qubec mall units: a (five-year) case study
Created in 1969, Loto-Québec is a government agency that develops and operates lotteries in Quebec. In early years, Loto-Québec kiosks surfaced in just about every mall across the province. Ranging from prime fashion centres, like Carrefour Laval, to more modest community centres in rural towns, their kiosks are today considered part of the mall furniture.
In 2009, a formal request for proposal was launched to redesign the Loto-Québec mall units. With the previous kiosk design dating back to the early ’80s, the mall units were starting to get negative comments and pressure from today’s well-renovated centres, whom had spent millions of dollars to get updated and more modern looks. The bar had been raised and Loto-Québec was no exception.
At the same time, a wider selection of lottery games had become available in recent years, and the advancement of technology offered possibilities not available 20 to 30 years ago. Therefore, with these points in mind, and with the goal of broadening their client base, the meticulous process of designing a new kiosk began.
ENTER MONTREAL-BASED RUSCIO STUDIO
Taking a step back, one of the first observations made was that the existing units resembled community bulletin boards, with messages and stickers randomly and sporadically pasted all over the kiosk. This created visual chaos and lacked any sort of appeal. A new brand image was highly required.
The kiosk also had to appear more modern, simple and fresh if the client wanted to attract a wider demographic, so moving away from the dark-blue tone was key. This shift would also allow the new design to integrate well into all the different centres and surroundings it would find itself in.
Lastly, simplifying the unit was critical; therefore much time and effort was spent convincing the client that just the logo and one main double-sided screen to advertise all the various offerings were sufficient for the kiosk to speak for itself.
Another painstaking procedure Ruscio Studio had to ensure was dealing with the over 100 elaborate specifications required for a tiny 8-by-10-foot piece of furniture. To properly operate this little unit, lots of detailing and requirements had to be taken in consideration, such as a safe, sliding ticket holder, pivoting shelves, electrical panel cabinet, and coat and boot closet, to name a few. In the end, all of this needed to be neatly concealed so that the kiosk, the logo and the screen were the only things visible.
The biggest challenge in working with a governmental institution, however, was the bureaucracy encountered throughout the entire process and development of the project. The fact that the project started in 2009, and the first prototype was completed only at the end of 2013, attests to that face.
However, in the end, and after over three years of prototyping, the final design was a huge success with mall owners and leasing representatives, and a full scale roll-out is now underway.
INTEGRATION OF INTERIOR, STOREFRONT AND MERCHANDISE DISPLAYS
Like an airplane cockpit, this kiosk was designed from the inside out. The interior is planned according to the operator, who is the pivot point. Due to the numerous requirements of security, operations, ergonomics and simply wanting to maximize every square foot of rent, every square inch of this kiosk was taken into account.
With regards to security, a 17-by-19-by-20-inch safe had to be discreetly incorporated, always accessible, yet not cumbersome. Extra security was required for all scratch and lottery tickets, as they are the equivalent of cash being visible to clients. Therefore, their display drawer needed to be of a certain length to prevent anyone from reaching it. An electrical panel was also required, as was a data panel, to allow for regular and instant updates of the media screen. An emergency button that was both well concealed and easily accessible to the agents also needed to be incorporated.
From an operational point of view, attendants have several actions to perform to complete a transaction. This is why a built-in pivoting counter surface was incorporated to facilitate the repetitive movements that are performed daily. Additionally, as all the kiosks operate in a province with four full seasons, having a built-in closet – for boots, coats, purses, backpacks, scarves and mittens, etc. – became very important, as did the integration of an additional cabinet for each attendee where other personal items could be stored.
One of the most tedious exercises that Ruscio Studio had to undertake with Loto-Québec was to alter the existing logo. Strict and stringent guidelines established decades ago greatly limited any change. However, the time had come for the branding to be more reflective of the graphic vocabulary of today. Additionally, with hardly any merchandise to showcase, we had the opportunity to create a unit that itself would become the emblem of the brand. Therefore, by wrapping opposite corners of the structure with oversized sections of the company logo, the brand became visible from all sides.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE NEW CONCEPT AND PREVIOUS DESIGNS
One of the biggest complaints about the old kiosk design was that it looked like a fortress. Because of its elevated towers and height due to security concerns, it was difficult to see if there was even someone manning the kiosk. So the very first task was to lower the overall height, with the exception of a single elevated tower.
This tower consequently became one of the feature design elements of this kiosk. Not only is it the only single raised element, but it is an elegant sculptural component thta twists into a double-sided digital screen.
Another complaint about the existing design was the accumulation of scratch dust and crumpled tickets on the surfaces of the counter. Ruscio Studio’s solution was to eliminate the number of flat surfaces and to replace them with slanted sides with clearly indicated recycling slots. This makes for a clean look and ties in very nicely with the fluid design, as well as offers added comfort for clients and solves the problem of the garbage accumulating unwantedly.
Addressing the problem of visual chaos, another design decision made with the new kiosk was to eliminate the numerous “eyesores” on the unit in order to simplify the look. The emphasis was instead put on the visually striking partial logos on the side of the unit as well as the digital screen that features all the promotional messages.
Finally, lighting had to be considered for various mall conditions as kiosks are sometimes placed in very bright areas, and sometimes not. The tower therefore integrates three down lights, and task lighting was introduced in the unit, in order to create an overall glow and make the kiosk more noticeable.
SPECIFIC MATERIALS USED IN CREATING THE NEW CONCEPT
Considering that the last time the kiosk was designed was in the ’80s, durability was the number one consideration. Corian was therefore selected as the main material as it is ideal when it comes to dealing with curves and solid edges and contains a very subtle texture allowing it to handle daily wear and tear. This was used to build the main structure of the unit as well as the countertop inside the kiosk.
For the kiosk to be noticeable in all types of shopping centres, the specified shade for the overall unit was as close to white as possible, thereby allowing the oversized logo to pop-out from afar, regardless of location in a mall.
Fiberglass came in handy when it came to building the twisted tower. Lightweight yet durable, it became the perfect choice after rejecting several prototypes made from different materials.
With the openness of the new kiosk design, in order to address both privacy and security concerns, lit glass panels were installed around the kiosk at the transactional level (bar level). To provide some discretion, a gradient film replicating the logo pattern was applied mid-height on
the sides and corner panels of the kiosk. Moreover, the higher part of the panels are completely see-through to allow customers to the see the attendant, all while keeping it protected. During closing hours, the panels in front of the transactional window close and lock for added security.
Another top request from the client was to provide comfort to the agents who man the kiosks. An anti-fatigue ergonomic flooring made of soft polyurethane was a perfect product which provided durability and, with its patented and cushioned technology, was ideal for the well-being of the workers.
Finally, the closets as well as the electric and data panels were built out of metal and painted in the corporate blue as a reminder of the brand.
IMPACT ON SALES PERFORMANCE
With Loto-Québec having a monopoly position in the market, their main objective of the redesign was not necessarily related to sales but rather on the mall appeal factor to address to negative pressure they were receiving from shopping centre owners.
That said, due to the guarded nature of this government society, all sales figures are kept strictly confidential. All comments from shopping centre owners and leasing representatives regarding the new concept have been positive and a rollout is now underway.
The client took a risk to go off course from their conventional corporate thinking, but the gamble will pay off as this kiosk design is bound to be a big winner.
For more info about Ruscio Studio, visit http://www.rusciostudio.com/