What happens when PICNIC brings one of Europe’s leading shopping centre management companies together with a motley crew of entrepreneurs, artists, civil society activists, designers, architects, business professionals and government representatives?

Kick off PICNIC Creative Business Club at Corio...

Companies and Organizations present: Corio, TNO, Sanoma Digital, Mexican embassy, Hoogeschool van Amsterdam, Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Logica, UNStudio, Seats2Meet, WhizPR, Masterpiece, IKV Pax Christi, Bureau BlauwGeel, Fonk Mobile, Carmela, Maurice Mikkers Photography, Kampman and of course, PICNIC.

The official kick off of the PICNIC Creative Business Club!

Under the theme “Creating Favourite Meeting Places”, the Club’s first event explored how to turn traditional and under-utilized places into engaging social gathering spaces.

Corio, a PICNIC Creative Business Club member and shopping centre operator with properties across Europe, co-hosted the event at its inspiring headquarters located in the middle of their Hoog Catharijne shopping centre in Utrecht. The company served as a living, breathing case study for applying multi-disciplinary thinking and creativity to this challenge. Corio’s innovation strategy has shifted from investing and (re)developing typical shopping centres to creating Favourite Meeting Places: sustainable places where people meet up, spend their time off, and shop; places they want to keep coming back to.

Corio is in the middle of a multi-million Euro redevelopment project for Hoog Catharijne, one of its flagship shopping centres. Club members and guests were treated a sneak peak of the construction site and its plans to turn the shopping centre into a Favourite Meeting Place, or FMP, for all kinds of people and interests.

In true PICNIC form, discussion was lively and Club members and guests didn’t hold back. Some points shared by Club members and guests:

  • in a world of cookie cutter spaces, people crave spaces which offer one-of-a-kind experiences
  • claiming a niche differentiates a space and attract a more loyal crowd
  • don’t be afraid to mash up the best offerings from several sources
  • to be a favourite meeting place, it’s important to be meaningful
  • give people insight into processes and let them co-create spaces instead of just presenting finished products and spaces
  • rather than trying to become a Favourite Meeting Place, give people the tools to find their own; and
  • the most Favourite Meeting Places are where people meet others who can bring meaning to their lives

The biggest shout out of the evening came from Corio’s CEO, Gerard Groener. He attended the PICNIC Festival for only half a day last September due to his busy schedule. In his own words: “The experience brought me more inspiration and ideas about what’s ahead in terms of the future than one year of retail property conferences. We at Corio need insights and input from different sectors to be successful.”

Sharing ideas. Exploring new ways to collaborate. Enjoying great food and drinks. Networking with people you don’t usually meet. Stay tuned for more inspiring PICNIC Creative Business Club events.

Check out the beautiful pictures taken by our favourite photographer Maurice Mikkers on our Flickr page.

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