The Gruen transfer

The Gruen transfer

If you’ve been disoriented in a shopping mall, it’s not you, it’s them:

The Gruen transfer refers to the moment when a consumer enters a shopping mall, and, surrounded by an intentionally confusing layout, loses track of their original intentions. Spatial awareness of their surroundings play a key role, as does the surrounding sound and music. The effect of the transfer is marked by a slower walking pace and glazed eyes.


In shopping mall design, the Gruen transfer refers to the moment when consumers respond to “scripted disorientation” cues in the environment. It is named for Austrian architect Victor Gruen (who disavowed such manipulative techniques).

If you’re in Australia, you can further investigate on television, but elsewhere, we have to depend on Douglas Rushkoff and our sense of spatial orientation for now.

[thx, Josh]