Filed under: By Design
It was my subject matter ignorance that led me to believe that a presentation by a luxury mall developer might be dull. But the presentation by William S. "Bill" Taubman, COO of Taubman Centers of Bloomfield Michigan, was one of the most thought provoking, philosophically relevant ones at the Luxury Summit conference, held nearly two weeks ago in Las Vegas. This presentation was fascinating partially because of his and his company's vast experience in envisioning and constructing the luxury mall, but also because of Mr. Taubman's philosophical, process-oriented discourse about the subtextural meanings of the mall in our culture. Luxist interviewed Mr. Taubman to discuss the meaning of luxury shopping, the dimensionality of the contemporary luxury brand, the evolution of the high end mall, and what the shoppers let the mall developers know about their needs and wants.
You said in your Luxury Summit presentation that you went to Cambridge University – Explain your journey from getting a degree in philosophy at Cambridge to developing luxury malls.
Taubman: I went to Cambridge for 2 ½ years, and studied Moral Philosophy, but earlier, got my degree with a triple major at Brown University in Philosophy, Religious Studies, and Russian. I realized, however, while I Cambridge that I did not have the tools, and by that I mean, fluency in both Latin and Greek, to do original research. Also, I got tired of studying in the Cambridge library, which was really cold and dull. So, I went home, one thing led to another, and went to work for the Taubman Group the company my father founded many years before. I have always been grateful for my education, in that I can think quite logically, strategically and analytically.
You said in your Luxury Summit presentation, that the mall is evolving, but with a strong heart. What are the components of this strong heart?
Taubman: One component of the strong heart is understanding that the mall is a social environment, as much as it is a shopping venue. If you look at it this way, the mall is an area where people seek out people, talk, eat and purchase, so another component of the strong heart is the high end shopping experience. The luxury brand becomes the positive, memorable experience. It also becomes part of the consumer mindset and identity. The luxury mall is providing the environment so the brands can become all these things.