Financial institutions once occupied the most prestigious and opulent buildings and locations in every city and town. They oozed intimidation, grandeur and wealth. Then banks became nameless and faceless boxes, one or more in every block, just like franchised fast-food chains. And then it seemed we’d soon have no physical banks at all, only banking machines and online banking.
But now we are starting to see banks that seem to want to talk to us again. It seems that they want to make us feel welcome, actually wanting to appeal to customers again.
The new financial spaces are designer banks that look more like five-star hotel lounges, bars or nightclubs than the boring boxes banks have become.
Our recent examples of cool banking environments — from retail spaces to offices — have come from Paris, Milan, Moscow, Melbourne, Sydney and Amsterdam.
The latest of these designer banks is the Raiffeisen Bank’s flagship in Zurich designed by design co-operative NAU with associate team of DGJ (Zurich.)
The goal of this white space-agey environment is to break down the physical and emotional barriers between customers and staff. Stern tellers and three-piece-suited bankers behind high counters and glass walls, and accessible only through little windows like jailbirds — these are things of the past.
In this new world of banking, customers are invited to learn more about the bank’s services and products though interactive touch screen tables, while surrounded by digitally produced massive portraits of prominent past residents of the area.
We assume the staff members are equally stylish in attire and grooming as it is tough to imagine bespectacled tellers or portly pin-striped bankers in this environment. - Tuija Seipell