Viktor Grünbaum, born 1904, left Austria in 1938 for New York City, where he made a name for himself as a designer of retail spaces.
Grünbaum (who later changed his surname to Gruen) noticed the excessive amount of time Americans spent riding around in their cars, cut off from the city and from each other. This was especially true in the suburbs.
The suburbs lacked what sociologist Ray Oldenburg calls third places. If home is the primary place, and work is a second place, then a third place is anywhere else one goes to hang out. Gruen wanted to give American suburbs that third place.
This was during the lean years of the late 30s.
People were broke.
Gruen figured out how to lure customers inside stores with appealing window displays.
He figured if there was a building with lots of stores, then lots of people would be drawn into such places.
Gruen’s full vision for the shopping center, known as “mall” today, was more than just shops. He imagined shopping centers as mixed-use facilities, with apartments, offices, medical centers, child-care facilities, even libraries.
He should be credited for being the first to come up with the idea of “mixed-use development” which is becoming a cliché with developers in Singapore today.
In 1952, Dayton Company commissioned Gruen to build the very first indoor, climate-controlled shopping center in Edina, Minnesota.
The Shopping Mall was born!
The term “The Gruen Effect” came into being!
Ever experienced wanting to pop into a supermarket to make a quick purchase of an ingredient you needed real urgently and ended up buying a shirt and a pair of shoes and booking tickets for a musical which starts only in February next year?
Haha, you have succumbed to “The Gruen Effect”!
How supermarkets – in and of themselves, and in relation to other stores in a mall – are designed is a science!
Happens to retards like me all the time: Wanted a sprig of spring onions and ended up booking air tickets for a trip next spring.
Anyway, Gruen eventually returned to Austria and about ten years after his return to the country of his birth, Gruen became a critic of malls.
Yup, Victor Gruen, the mall maker, became the foremost mall critic.
But that’s another story for another time.
But let’s guess why Gruen became his harshest critic.
Just look at Starbucks and IKEA today.
Many morons, I suspect, have been deceived by these places, thinking and behaving as if these are their homes.
I have enough posts in this blog bitching about unreasonable behavior at Starbucks. Just do a search using the search window on the right of this page.
And just the other day at the over-rated eatery named Kith in Millenia Walk, some spastic has set up himself an operating command center at one of the tables, one cup of coffee bought but he occupied an entire table meant for more than one diner; his laptop, a couple of external monitors, speakers, and God knows what else were all spread on the table, all being deployed for action. I was in that mall at 10 in the morning and when I left at 2pm, he was still holding court. Same one cup of coffee still on the table, together with the rest of his paraphernalia.
He’ll probably be there all day.
I bet even the richest man on earth doesn’t need all those gizmos.
And at IKEA, more nincompoops pack its restaurant eating its chicken wings – yes, chicken wings of all things – rather than shop for IKEA products. Some days, you can’t even get in due to long lines waiting to eat at IKEA. The entrances to IKEA are blocked by all these idiots crowding around them.
It happens at all the IKEA stores here.
Also, think back to those days when our malls were infested with “Centrepoint Kids” and “Far East Plaza Kids” to the point where shoppers were afraid that they would be harassed by these “undesirable elements” hogging their “third place” and smoking God knows what and probably even having sex at staircase landings, which seems to be a favorite place for some sickos to copulate.
No wonder Gruen hated what he created.