Placemaking: Make Your Space a Destination Through Design


From street fronts to back alleys to underutilized parking spaces, many businesses have access to outdoor space that can add value and attract customers. A barren lot can become a business opportunity for breweries, restaurants, cafes, and retailers by adding a temporary patio and design elements that make it a destination for people to visit, linger, eat, or shop in. This strategy is known as placemaking.


What is Placemaking?

Placemaking works to bridge the gap between buildings and their surrounding external environment: businesses can make underutilized private and public outdoor spaces functionally accessible, adding elements that contribute to vibrant street-level energy and increased foot traffic. As a strategy, placemaking was initially used by city planners to add value and vibrancy to communities, and now many businesses use the same principles to make the most out of their property while contributing to the character of their street and neighborhood, which has been proven to improve economic performance

Creating photo-worthy spaces is also great marketing: businesses with beautiful and unusual outdoor spaces generate buzz organically through social media and word of mouth, making marketing easy. With outdoor public seating, a temporary patio, murals, window graphics,  and displays, you can activate the spaces around your business and attract more customers.


Who is Placemaking for?

Creative placemaking strategies are often utilized by cities, business improvement districts, and neighborhoods to boost traffic in certain areas, generate revenue, or spread awareness about a local feature or initiative. Cities often host urban space discovery walks and other events that require:

Smaller organizations like property developers, retailers, breweries, and restaurants can also implement placemaking in their space to create better environments or increase revenue. Many brick-and-mortar businesses are struggling to keep pace with e-commerce giants and food delivery services. But there's something that is increasingly high in demand that those services can never offer: experiences. By creating spaces that are designed to delight real people and not just “consumers”, businesses can use placemaking to redefine what makes in-person experiences valuable and unique.

Cities and neighborhood associations will often partner with small businesses for events like Park(ing) Day, street yoga, and car-free days where the street is given over to temporary patios, public art installations, and more. Businesses can add vibrancy to their street-level public areas with:

Placemaking in action at a popup beach event

Placemaking and COVID

The pandemic highlighted the value of having attractive outdoor spaces to spend time in. Taking advantage of your underutilized outdoor space through placemaking is also a great strategy to continue safely attracting customers as public health orders continue to fluctuate around the country. Keep your outdoor installation COVID-friendly as well with: 

  • Hand sanitizer stations
  • Floor graphics to direct traffic and maintain social distancing
  • Microbial copper film for high touch areas, like screens and POS systems


Engaging Graphics and Designs to Transform Your Space

Color Reflections offers custom graphics, COVID signage, and interactive designs to make your creative placemaking strategy a reality. We have helped cities, museums, civic events, breweries, and many others attract more traffic and create beautiful spaces that are impossible to ignore. 

Work with us to transform your space and grow your business.


Tips for Getting Started with Placemaking:

  1. Look around your area, do you have parking lots, streets, alleyways, abandoned lots nearby, or any place that can be transformed? This could be as little as adding window graphics or sidewalk art, or as big as adding a back alley beer garden.

  2. Set goals and define your vision: have a plan for what you are trying to do that will bring revenue to the area, expand your space, or overcome current obstacles (like indoor vaccine requirements). Look for opportunities to collaborate with community planners or business district development organizations.

  3. Make sure you understand any permit requirements before going all-in on placemaking projects. Check with your local city laws and ordinances to determine if you can use the space temporarily or permanently. 

  4. Partner with a company that knows how to do this! Color Reflections can design, manufacture and install all of the visual design material you will need to make your space a place.


Let us design your outdoor space.

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