Why retail space is pivotal for today’s visitor attractions

In this Skip the Queue podcast episode I speak with Callum Lumsden, Co-Founder and Creative Director of Lumsden Design.

Callum Lumsden is a leading design expert for cultural and visitor attractions. He is the co-founder of Lumsden, a specialist design studio delivering bespoke retail and leisure environments for the world’s most renowned museums, galleries and visitor attractions including V&A Dundee, MoMA (NYC), Warner Bros. Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter London, and M+ Museum, Hong Kong.


“The point is that what is being sold and how you actually design that store needs to reflect the brand of the institution that it is part of. And it should be, in our view, a seamless thing. So you shouldn’t feel, all right, well, I’m now going into the shop. You should feel that it’s part of the Harry Potter experience or the museum or the theatre experience in terms of look and feel.”

What will you learn from this podcast?

  • Callum’s journey to founding the interior design agency, Lumsden
  • Why retail space is pivotal for today’s visitor attractions

To listen to the full podcast, search Skip The Queue on iTunes, Google Podcasts and Spotify to subscribe. You can find links to every episode and more at www.rubbercheese.com/podcast.

You can also read the full transcript below.

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The interview

Your host, Kelly Molson

Our guest, Callum Lumsden


Kelly Molson: Callum, thank you so much for joining me on the podcast today. It’s a pleasure to have you with me.

Callum Lumsden: Thank you. Thanks for inviting me. I’m looking forward to this.

Kelly Molson: I’m glad that you’re looking forward to this but we are going to start with our icebreaker questions. Yeah, it might be a think, you never know. So at the start of every podcast, I always ask a few icebreaker questions to our guests. Mostly they’re really stupid and just a chance for us to find out a little bit about you. So I would like to know, when you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Callum Lumsden: Oh, that’s a good one. What did I want to be? A rock star.

Kelly Molson: Oh really?

Callum Lumsden: Oh yeah. Yeah.

Kelly Molson: Okay. And did you ever come close?

Callum Lumsden: I managed to get a flute from school and I was big into a band called Jethro Tull at the time. So Ian, I can’t remember his last name. He used to stand on one leg and play a flute. That’s as far as I got.

Kelly Molson: Oh, right. Okay. Can you do the one-legged flute playing?

Callum Lumsden: Maybe I can do the one leg, but not the flute.

Kelly Molson: It doesn’t sound very rockstar-ish, does it? Flute player.

Callum Lumsden: No, no, no, it doesn’t, but Jethro Tull were pretty good. But I was also roadie for some mates of mine. They had a proper band and that was in Edinburgh. So I got to get a little bit of taste of that, but I’ve always been massively interested in rock music or music of any kind, really.

Kelly Molson: Oh well this is really handy then, because my next question for you is, what is your karaoke song?

Callum Lumsden: It’s got to be Sweet Caroline.

Kelly Molson: Yeah. It’s a classic, isn’t it?

Callum Lumsden: Yeah. That’s the one. Because you can get everybody joining in on that. Because nobody knows the words, but they get the bah bah bah so that always works.

Kelly Molson: That’s the key to a good karaoke song choice, isn’t it? Pick something that everybody else knows. So you’re not the only one singing it.

Callum Lumsden: Oh, things they know. Yes.

Kelly Molson: Great. Okay. Last one. If you could switch lives with anyone for a day, who would it be?

Callum Lumsden: Somebody who’s just starting to go to art college?

Kelly Molson: Well, that’s a good choice. Is that because you would be full of the wisdom that you have now or you would want to go in a different direction?

Callum Lumsden: Yeah, it might take me in a different direction of what I originally wanted to do, which was to be an artist.

Kelly Molson: Hmm. Interesting. Okay. Maybe we’ll talk a little bit more about that. All right, firstly though, I want to know what your unpopular opinion is.

Callum Lumsden: Here’s one. I think musical theatre is the most unattractive part of the creative industries. I absolutely hate musicals.

Kelly Molson: Oh no.

Callum Lumsden: Come on. Bring it on.

Kelly Molson: I love it. Oh no, really? What is it that really upsets you about it?

Callum Lumsden: I just think it’s so pretentious and naff and horrible. And then-

Kelly Molson: Isn’t it the naffness that makes it great though?

Callum Lumsden: Yeah. And I just love … I’m surrounded by people who love musical theatre so I really like winding them up about it.

Kelly Molson: Do you get dragged along though?

Callum Lumsden: No.

Kelly Molson: Yeah but you point blank refuse.

Callum Lumsden: Yeah. Oh yeah. Yeah. I wouldn’t even think about … People don’t even think about asking me because I’ll just sit there and be embarrassing.

Kelly Molson: So not even a little Mamma Mia trip would inspire you.

Callum Lumsden: Nope.

Kelly Molson: Oh no. I had really high hopes for this interview. I thought we were going to get on so well.

Callum Lumsden: Sorry. Is that the end of it?

Kelly Molson: We’re done. You can leave. Get out of my podcast booth.

Callum Lumsden: Yeah. Yeah. And let’s not get onto ABBA either.

Kelly Molson: Oh God. Can we not? Because yeah, that’ll go right off. There’s a lot of people listening to this that love ABBA and I bet Eurovision as well so-

Callum Lumsden: Yeah. Yeah. Sorry everybody.

Kelly Molson: All right. Well let’s just, we’ll park that then. Callum you tell me about your background and how you have come to found Lumsden Design.

Callum Lumsden: Well, it started it by me going to art college. At art college, I ended up studying furniture design. Then I went to Royal College of Art to do what was then called interior architecture. And that opened me up to all manner of different people and processes, et cetera. And then when I graduated I knew most of the people in the fashion department and they went off to work for various retailers and their bosses started saying that there’s any of your mates, any good interior design, we’ve got a shop to design. And lots of them said, “Oh I know this guy called Callum. Give him a shout.” So that got me into that. So I’ve been designing shops ever since then.

Kelly Molson: Wow.

Callum Lumsden: So that’s how it started.

Kelly Molson: Yeah. And so how long has Lumsden Design been around?

Callum Lumsden: Well, it’s been in a few different variations because when I left the RCA, I worked for myself and then I went to work for various retailers in house, such as Jaeger for instance. But I was also freelancing myself and then I eventually joined various big design companies. And then I formed London Design Partnership, it was called, oh 20, 30, 35 years ago. Something like that.

Kelly Molson: It’s the longest job you’ve ever had.

Callum Lumsden: Well, yeah it’s gone through various different for formations. I did merge with another design company for a couple of years and then I started what it is now, which is Lumsden Design. Although we’re getting rid of the design, just calling it Lumsden now.

Kelly Molson: I like that. That’s quite rockstar, isn’t it? You just got the one name now.

Callum Lumsden: Well, yeah, it’s keeping the Lumsden name, it’s had its advantages, but there’s also disadvantages. Because how long can … Lumsden isn’t just me. I have a team of people, a great team of people and everybody has to be part of all of that. And clients need to understand that I can’t be there on every single one and all of those kind of things. So this one, this variation, which will stay the same, probably goes back to 2010. Yeah. So 12 years in the way that we’re doing it now. Yeah.

Kelly Molson: Yeah. Yeah. And so it’s really interesting the way that you’ve … Because this podcast is obviously for people that work in and for the attraction sector. And you have kind of evolved a little bit over the years, haven’t you, in terms of working in that sector. So it that wasn’t what you set out doing. Was it?

Callum Lumsden: Yeah, there’s a bit of happen chance that has gone on. The route to where we are now started probably in the year 1998, when we pitched for the retail for Tate Modern. And I’d always done retail, but I was asked to pitch for Tate Modern. I presume that you’ve been there or people that are listening to this know it.

And we won it and I had no idea about the importance of retail to the cultural sector. And that opened in year 2000, 22 years ago, believe it or not. And then that got me into this sector. So I started, Tate Modern kicked it off. And then it was people like the V&A, the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum.

So I started spinning into this and then that went into loads of different places. And I’d always worked in retail, but retail, if you take mainstream retail, from a design perspective, you come up with a concept, you build it and if it’s successful, then it gets repeated again and again, and again.

The Americans call it cookie cutter. If you think of Gap, whichever Gap you see, it looks exactly the same. With this sector, every single client is different. And then eventually took the decision that we would just concentrate on that sector. And the route to visitor attractions was winning the Warner Brothers project in Leavesden, just outside of London, doing the retail for the Harry Potter-

Kelly Molson: The name that everyone always gets wrong.

Callum Lumsden: Studio tour. Yeah. It’s the Harry Potter Studio Tour. No, no. It’s the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, the making of Harry Potter. There we go.

Kelly Molson: We had Geoff Spooner on-

Callum Lumsden: Yeah. Sorry Geoff

Kelly Molson: Sorry, Jeff. But he said, everybody gets it wrong. They either call it the Harry Potter tour or the Warner Brothers tour. It’s always a different, a different name every time.

Callum Lumsden: And it’s interesting connection with the route to get to them because the reason that I got contacted about pitching for that project was a couple of the directors from Warner Brothers in LA went to the British Museum and we’d done all the retail for the British Museum. And one of the library rooms in the British Museum is called the Greenville room.

When you walk into the British Museum, you turn right, and it’s where all the high end products are sold. Everything from statues to jewelry to watches to da da. And it’s got loads of books. And Harry Potter is that. And they said to the guy who’s in charge of British Museum commercial side, who did this? And that was me. Well, me and my team. And we pitched for it and we won it. And that started us into this amazing journey with Warner Brothers and various other places.

Kelly Molson: Oh, I love that. It’s a really … I wanted to ask you how you became specialists. And I love that you’ve said it’s like a catalyst process, because that’s what happened to us as well. We won a big project for an existing client, for Pernod Ricard. So we worked on a project for the Plymouth Gin Visitor Centre.

We created their ticket booking system and their website and it was such a brilliant experience going through that, to understand about the experience economy and visitor experience and how you take somebody on a journey through that. That was the catalyst for us. That was a really exciting project. And it was a world that we just thought we want to be more and more involved in.

And it’s really lovely to hear that was kind of a similar effect to you. It’s brought you into this incredible world of … It’s fun, isn’t it? All of these things that we work on, they’re really fun.

Callum Lumsden: Yeah. And that’s what’s interesting about all the clients that we work with, they’re all entirely different and the we’ve got a who’s who of clients. Abbey Road, everybody in the world knows Abbey Road. You can talk to somebody from China and they’ll know what Abbey Road is all about. And that’s as much about visitor experiences as the studio tour in Leavesden.

Kelly Molson: So I’ve got quite a few questions for you today, but I just want to touch on what you said earlier, because you were talking about Gap and the cookie cutter experience of their stores. So with that, I guess people work out what works and they just replicate it. Yours is so different because every store that you’re working on is completely different. Everything has a different brand story, has different values. How do you even start to approach a project when it’s so different each time you do it?

Callum Lumsden: Well, it’s a very overused word, but immerse ourselves in that brand, as much as we can. We sit down or walk around and just talk to people, observe, find out who the visitors are, the fans, are they school kids? And that’s the difference in this sector. Because if you go to, say a high street brand, again, you probably got every retailer saying, well, our core customer is …

For the people that we work for, there is a bit of a core customer, but actually it can be anybody from two years old to 82 years old. The Warner Brothers Studio Tour, it’s international, it can be grannies and grandpas to a whole trip of school kids to teenagers or moms who were reading the Harry Potter books when they were six, who are now reading that to their own kids.

And if you go to, we worked for MoMA in New York, you’ve got absolute fans of MoMA products. The New York dinner set will go and buy their china and their cutlery at the New York design store, the MoMA design store. Go across the roads to the museum itself and you’ll get a tourist, who’s come from Austria because …

So actually defining who the … So understanding that is completely different every single time. The National Theatre that we did in the South Bank, the shop there, the book shop that you went to find a particular book on a particular play, we changed that around to actually make it about stories about the productions that were going on in the theatre, the theatre itself.

And they have three or four one time because there’s lots of different theatres and that help the retail team there design the products that will fit that store, but still have the bookshop at the back because they weren’t making any money out that, but they are making money out of the products.

Kelly Molson: Right.

Callum Lumsden: And understanding how … Because it’s not just about making the spaces look great or seamless, which is another part of what needs to be done, but they’ve got to make money. They have to increase revenue. That’s why they’re there in the first bit, apart from everybody expects to go into, I hate the term gift shop, but 96% of people will go into the shop and buy something-

Kelly Molson: Exit through the gift shop. Yeah.

Callum Lumsden: Yeah. And they will buy something. So make the most of it.

Kelly Molson: It’s a fascinating process, isn’t it? I think you touched on it there in terms of the commercial, but why is retail space so important to the sector? It is about commercials, right?

Callum Lumsden: Yes it is. But it does have benefits as well. Visitor attractions are slightly different to the cultural sector because the cultural sector, the money that’s generated goes to the curators to help them buy the objects that they want in their collections. And it also helps in the education part of what they do and the events and everything else. If you take MoMA, their retail turnover is $52 million per year. That’s a lot of money.

Kelly Molson: That is a lot of money.

Callum Lumsden: Yeah. I’m not able to tell you what Warner Brothers is, but let’s say it’s really quite successful, but that goes back into them to be able to develop the next part because a studio tour can’t stand still, everybody has to look at, all right, what are we going to do in the next year, the next two years.

Because they want repeat visits. So to be able to do that and to be fair to Warner Brothers, they also put a lot back into the local community education as well, developing their staff, all of those kind of things. So there’s a whole load of other aspects to it. So the money that’s generated is really important to everybody.

Kelly Molson: Yeah. Yeah. Completely. How does it help to sustain their visitor engagement? So what part does retail play in making that visitor maybe come back or be more engaged with the brand?

Callum Lumsden: Well, again, the retail offer is down to the merchandise. The merchandise has to be looked at as creatively as possible in terms of, okay, what else can we do that will grab people’s attention? So there’s an introduction of hampers at Warner Brothers for Harry Potter. So you could actually take a whole Harry Potter based hamper with loads of product in it so you’ve got a whole set of something.

That was introduced and that’s been really important. That’s been a really successful one. Personalisation, doing lots of different things to actually make a wand that’s just for you or all of those kind of things and personalisation is becoming really … Well it’s there. It’s become really important also in the cultural sector as well where you can get your own name on it. You can get things custom made according to …

Because people like Adidas and Nike, they’re doing that. You can get your trainers personalised, all of that needs to seep into the sector that I work in as well. And that’s becoming really successful.

Kelly Molson: Yeah. And I guess some of the retail spaces that you’ve owned, most of the retail spaces that you’ve designed, they almost become experiences in themselves. Don’t they? Like a mini attraction within an attraction.

Callum Lumsden: Well, yeah. Well, a lot of … Yeah. There’s quite a lot of stores that we’ve done that people go to but they don’t go into the museum. The Tate Modern is one example. MoMA is another example. But that’s not the point. The point is that what is being sold and how you actually design that store needs to reflect the brand of the institution that it is part of.

And it should be, in our view, a seamless thing. So you shouldn’t feel, all right, well, I’m now going into the shop. You should feel that it’s part of the Harry Potter experience or the museum or the theatre experience in terms of look and feel. So that means that the space could be inspired by, well, for Harry Potter, it’s about the props that are in there, referring to Diagon Alley in terms of the look and feel of the place.

Or, if you take the British museum, it reflects the architecture, because it is a completely … That’s big tourist … That people want British Museum because it’s a fantastic building. It’s got an amazing collection. Everything that’s in the shop is telling stories about what they’ve just seen as they’ve walked around the museum.

And that’s what they want to take a piece of. They want to take that memory away either for themselves or to buy for somebody. And that’s where the click happens between retail and the actual experience of walking around the rest of the building, et cetera.

Kelly Molson: I would love to know the process that you go on when you start to work with the visitor attraction. You touched on it earlier about immersing yourself into who their clientele is, who their customers are, who’s going to be visiting. Can you share the process that you take? You take the cultural institution on, or the attraction on. So things that they need to think about or research that they need to carry out if they’re going to go through this process with you?

Callum Lumsden: Well, most of the institutions that we work with or the companies or the brands, they have their research anyway. So the demographic for instance will be well and truly looked at by … Without exception actually. There’s usually something. Except when it’s a brand new, we haven’t done this before that. That’s usually very interesting.

We just did the stores for amazing new museum that’s been built in Hong Kong called M+, that’s M with a plus sign, which has the largest collection of contemporary visual culture in Asia. It’s an amazing building. It’s taken something like 20 years to finally come to fruition. We’ve been working with them for five years. It opened last November. Sadly Hong Kong is closed because of COVID, et cetera. So I haven’t actually been able to visit what we just sweated tears over.

Kelly Molson: Oh gosh, that must be really hard, to not be able to see it.

Callum Lumsden: Yeah, it’s really difficult. Yeah. But they are anticipating that people from Hong Kong, but also most of, when they’re allowed to, people from China, but also Asia, but they’re also expecting other international tourists. So deciding who was going to be the demographic for there was a little bit-

Kelly Molson: Yeah. Very tricky.

Callum Lumsden: Hit and miss. Abbey Road was the same. They knew that everybody, so many people, tourist buses, et cetera, were rocking up to walk across the zebra crossing and really upset London taxi drivers the whole time. But they had no idea people would actually walk into the building to buy anything, but that’s been an enormous success.

So you have to make assumptions is a long way around of saying that. But most of the time, the details of the demographics, who’ll be there, talking to the curators, talking to the management, talking to the retail teams, as well, is our way of doing it.

And an awful lot of the time we’re working in, such as the M+ in Hong Kong example, working with a brand new building, you’ve got super important architects who are being commissioned to design these amazing buildings. So being allied with them in terms of their vision for the building is another part of what we like to understand.

In terms of the materials they’re using, the space they are going to give us, where it’s actually going to go, because the location of a shop, it’s not always exit through the gift shop. All of those … Are there other opportunities? So we look at all of that with the client teams that we work with. And then that starts to, for us, that’s the kickoff point.

Understanding what the merchandise is, a lot of the time that’s been developed at the same time as we’re … Because it actually takes longer to get merchandise together than it does to build a shop.

Kelly Molson: Oh really?

Callum Lumsden: Oh yeah. Sometimes it can be two years. In museums, if you say somewhere like the National Gallery, their most popular product is the sunflower painting by Van Gogh, which they’ve got on everything from beer maps to fridge magnets, et cetera. Working to get permission to do that from artists can take ages.

Andy Warhol, working at Abbey Road, trying to get The Beatles, the guys who are looking after The Beatles or Pink Floyd or Rolling Stones, they are super sensitive about, no, you can’t do that. Or you can do that. For Abbey Road to really get the products, they’ve done it, but it’s taken a long time.

Kelly Molson: Yeah. I wonder what they’ vetoed. No, you can’t put my face on a tea towel.

Callum Lumsden: Well, I had an idea about Mean Mr. Mustard socks and that didn’t happen.

Kelly Molson: Disappointing.

Callum Lumsden: Yeah. I would’ve worn them.

Kelly Molson: Me too. That’s brilliant. Thank you for that insight into the process. I guess then, the brands that you work with are phenomenally well known or they have such rich history or such good stories like Harry Potter, or I know you mentioned the National Gallery there, the designing of the stores and what they’re going to look like, interior. That must be the easy part. You’ve got so much to work with.

Callum Lumsden: No, it’s never easy because there’s lots of layers of people that you need to go through. And navigating that it can be quite interesting, shall we say. Because every everybody’s got an opinion.

Kelly Molson: And there are quite a lot of boards involved in cultural organisations as well. Aren’t there? So there’s a lot of layers of people to come through.

Callum Lumsden: Well, yeah. And if you’re working with a museum, you are working with academics and they don’t have conversations, they have debates. And inevitably that debate will mean there’ll be 25 people in the room who all have to say something and you come away with, was there a decision there? And then you’ve got the architects.

The architects can be very easy to work with or very opinionated and have one direction. So actually navigating that can be quite entertaining sometimes. We did the V&A Dundee, which is an amazing building, that was designed by a Japanese architect called Kiakumi. And they were fantastic. They were just so … Yes, this is … We’d like this, da da. Everything fitted. It was good. But there’s other examples that I won’t go on air to talk about-

Kelly Molson: I was going to ask you, I was going to ask you-

Callum Lumsden: Nose to nose.

Kelly Molson: Without naming any names, can you tell us about an experience where you couldn’t get what you wanted.

Callum Lumsden: I usually get what I want.

Kelly Molson: Oh, right.

Callum Lumsden: Or there’s-

Kelly Molson: You’re very persuasive.

Callum Lumsden: Or there’s a bit of a compromise. Yeah. There was one example where it just got so stupid that the head of the museum walked into one of the meetings that I was having alongside the retail team and the architects. And he came in and said, I’ve had enough of this, the architects … You’re no longer involved in this, get out.

Kelly Molson: Wow.

Callum Lumsden: And let Callum do what he wants to do. So there you go.

Kelly Molson: Oh right, I love it.

Callum Lumsden: No name, no name was mentioned.

Kelly Molson: No names mentioned the power that you have Callum, as well, I love that.

Callum Lumsden: I have since worked with those architects on another project and everything was fine.

Kelly Molson: We all have our little friction moments.

Callum Lumsden: But that was 15 years later and they’d calmed down.

Kelly Molson: It took them that amount of time to mellow.

Callum Lumsden: Yeah.

Kelly Molson: I’m glad there was a happy ending. What about retail spaces that aren’t at the actual attraction itself? So we talk about Harry Potter, they have retail stores all over the place. So King’s Cross is the one for me because obviously, that is very pertinent to the film. So I will be queuing up to get … Waiting for my train to be announced and I’ll see hoards of people queuing up to have their photo taken with their trolley wedged into the wall there and the shop there. Do you get involved in that element as well? So retail-

Callum Lumsden: Yes we do. Yeah. We designed that shop and that was a moment of genius by somebody … A guy called Jonathan-

Kelly Molson: Very clever.

Callum Lumsden: Johnathan Sands. He saw the opportunity and he opened that up and he eventually joined up with Warner Brothers. He’s since moved on. But with those ones, we did that shop. We also did the airport shops, but because of COVID that didn’t work out. Then there was Cursed Child, we did all the retail and the theaters for that.

And that went world wide, New York, Hamburg Sydney. I can’t remember all the cities that that went to. And then we didn’t get involved in it, but Warner Brothers opened up the store in New York, a full blown store right next to the Flat Iron building, that’s been enormously successful.

We didn’t get involved in that one, but there’s the shops that Warner Brothers have done, but there’s also the shops that lots of other people have done copies of. And if you go to Edinburgh, you’ve got six versions of Harry Potter shops, nothing to do with us.

Kelly Molson: No claim on those. Someone once described a retail experience as a bit like a theatrical experience. Not a musical theatrical experience, because we know how you feel about those, but ultimately you are taking the visitor on a journey, aren’t you, around the store and you are making that a real experienced for them. Can I ask you, and this might be like what’s your favourite child, but what has been your favourite store to design from that perspective?

Callum Lumsden: Definitely the Warner Brothers Leavesden store, because that’s gone through the number of iterations as well. They’ve expanded it. We’ve moved it around. We’ve done different things. We’ve developed the restaurants and the cafes. That’s been great fun too.

Every project, I’m thinking … Because it’s recently opened, the M+ in Hong Kong has been a great experience. And that’s an interesting one about where it’s going in the sector because within that, it wasn’t just about a whole lot of shelves with products on it. A number of what we’ve called pavilions that were inspired by Hong Kong.

And, for instance, the central pavilion in the show is a combination of a place where artists can do master classes and talk about what they’re doing. And the retail guys developed products based around the artist or the artist has designed some of those products.

And then there’s another space where artists are given the market stalls in Hong Kong, which I don’t know if you’ve been to Hong Kong, but the markets are amazing. And the stalls are called pai dongs. We based one of our fixtures on pai dongs, and the idea. And that’s what’s happening, is that one of the pai dongs could be taken over by an artist to do anything that they want on it.

Kelly Molson: Lovely.

Callum Lumsden: Yeah. So sculptural or lighting or sounds because they’ve got sound artists and all of those kind of things. Or it can be handed over almost on a concession basis. So it could be, I don’t know, a sports retailer, if they take it over. All of those things, or personalisation again, where you could actually get, if you’re buying a wallet, you can get your own initial put on it, all of that kind of stuff. And then another part of it was for gift wrapping where we were commissioning Chinese calligraphers who will actually sign it.

Kelly Molson: Oh, wow.

Callum Lumsden: Or showing origami, how you can actually use origami to make your gift wrapping look even more different.

Kelly Molson: Oh, that’s incredible. That’s really theatrical, isn’t it? That’s a real experience.

Callum Lumsden: So you’ve really got activity going on and that’s what happens with Harry Potter. When you’re buying a wand, you’ve got somebody showing you how everything works and how to wave it and what to say and all of those kind of things. And that just gives people something. They’ll remember that, they’ll love that. And hopefully they’ll also buy something, but it’s adding something extra into that visitor experience. That’s the way it’s going for mainstream retail as well. That whole thing.

Kelly Molson: Yeah.

Callum Lumsden: Experiential.

Kelly Molson: So I guess it’s like the Hamley’s thing, isn’t it? Because I can remember as kid going around Hamley’s and you watch the people, they show you how to use the toys and they show you how they work and to play with them.

Callum Lumsden: Yeah, absolutely.

Kelly Molson: There’s a guy … Do you know what? I hope I don’t misquote this because I think it was Geoff Ramm that told me this story where … Geoff Ramm is a public speaker and he told me this story about how he just got mugged off but he spent so much money in Hamley’s because of somebody who was there demonstrating the product.

It was some like paint blocks and they were painting these pictures and then talking them through and his kid was watching them paint and she asked the child what her name was. And then she drew this picture with her initials and blah, blah, blah, and then gave it to her. And he was like, well, that’s it. I have to buy that product now, don’t I? I’ve got this picture that I’m taking home with me, but I’ve also got to buy those things because my kid wants the magic. She’s just seen the magic happen.

Callum Lumsden: Yeah. Well, if you think about it, you go down to a food market and you’ve got the guys, come and get your apples and pears and all of that kind of thing. It’s actually, it’s not you, it’s the way that people have always been persuaded to buy things or the butcher show that will remember your name when you walk in and say, did you enjoy that steak last week, we’ve got a nice piece of roast beef here. It’s interaction. It’s not just about how great the shop is, it’s to do with the staff, the product, the atmosphere, the layout, there’s so many different aspects that we’ve got to work together.

Kelly Molson: Yeah. All the facets coming together. I think you’ve described that perfectly there, Callum, thank you. We’re at the end of our interview, which I’m quite sad about, if I’m honest, I’ve really enjoyed this.

Callum Lumsden: Nice of you to say.

Kelly Molson: I always ask our guests a final question, which is about a book they love, but actually I’ve got one more question for you. I would love to know. Your list of clients is incredibly prestigious. Is there anyone that you would love to work with that you’ve not got your hands on yet?

Callum Lumsden: That’s a good one, Hamley’s.

Kelly Molson: Hamley’s. Oh okay. Yeah. There’s some work that could be done there.

Callum Lumsden: Yeah.

Kelly Molson: I think if you put stuff out in the universe, you never know what’s going to come back, do you?

Callum Lumsden: Yeah. Yeah, no, I think there’s … Well, if I ever get to speak to them, I’ll tell them-

Kelly Molson: You’ll tell them.

Callum Lumsden: I think what Hamley’s used to be and what it is now is in need of a little bit of TLC.

Kelly Molson: All right. Well, universe, let’s see what you can bring to Callum. Thank you for sharing that. All right. What about a book that you love or something that you love, something that’s helped you in your career? What would you recommend to our listeners?

Callum Lumsden: Well, there’s a beautiful book by a fantastic illustrator called Charlie Mackesy. I think that’s how you pronounce his name. It’s called The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse. And it’s all illustrations, but with lovely little writing from him, and it’s all about being gentle and kind to people. And that sounds a bit naff, but the illustrations are absolutely fantastic.

I follow him on Instagram and it’s just a lovely, beautiful book. I came across it as somebody else had it. And then somebody bought it for my birthday and I’ve actually used it a couple of times when I’ve done talks, et cetera, to illustrate different things. I highly recommend it. Charlie Mackesy, The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Hare.

Kelly Molson: Ah, it is a wonderful book.

Callum Lumsden: Oh, you know it?

Kelly Molson: I do. I also follow him on Instagram and I have the book and it is a beautiful book and a number of people have recommended that book because I think it touched a lot of people at a really challenging time.

Callum Lumsden: Yeah.

Kelly Molson: As well. I think a lot of people were drawn to that book during the pandemic. And it’s become a bit of a staple in, especially in nurseries as well, to be honest. A little bit of love and a little bit of hope that we all needed at that time.

Callum Lumsden: Sorry. Lots of other people have recommended it as well. I thought I might have come up with something that would nobody else-

Kelly Molson: No, it’s a good thing. I always think it’s a good thing if people have recommended it, because it’s testament to that book, isn’t it?

Callum Lumsden: Oh yeah.

Kelly Molson: It’s a-

Callum Lumsden: No it is good.

Kelly Molson: Yeah. So as ever listeners, if you want to win a copy of that book, if you head over to our Twitter account and you retweet this podcast announcement with the words I would like Callum’s book, then you could be in with the chance of winning it.

Callum Lumsden: Oh that’s nice.

Kelly Molson: Callum. Thank you. Yeah. Isn’t that lovely, people can win your book choice. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast. Been lovely to chat.

Callum Lumsden: My pleasure.

Kelly Molson: We will put all of Callum’s details in the show notes, we will put links to some of the case studies so you can see some of the incredible work. I’m sure most of you listening have visited many of the places that Callum has designed. So you will see firsthand what they look like, but we’ll put links in the show notes and you can go and check that out. And if anyone has a connection at Hamley’s that they would like to put Callum’s way, pass it on to me and I will make sure he gets that. Thanks Callum.

Callum Lumsden: Thank you, Kelly. Nice to see you.


Do you know someone we should be talking to?

Do you know someone fascinating we should be talking to?

If so, email us at hello@rubbercheese.com – we’ll get back to you shortly.

Paul Wright.
Kelly Molson Managing Director

Host of the popular Skip the Queue Podcast, for people working in or working with visitor attractions, she regularly delivers workshops and presentations on the sector at various national conferences and universities including The Visitor Attractions Conference, ASVA and Anglia Ruskin University.

Read more about me

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