Connecting Spaces and Cultures: Celebrating 25 Years of Zebra’s Design Innovation

Zebra, a leading commercial interior design and architecture studio with offices worldwide, is proud to announce the launch of Design that Connects.

Launched in 1997, Zebra is a global design and architecture consultancy that specializes in crafting consumer-focused experiences. Operating out of global studios in North America, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia Pacific, the Zebra team possesses the versatility to function as a unified studio, delivering projects worldwide, or as independent studios finely attuned to the local cultural nuances and expectations of their specific regions.

Design that Connects: Bridging Consumers, Spaces, and Cultures

‘Design that Connects’ is a thoughtfully curated book that serves as both a visually captivating coffee table piece and a comprehensive narrative of Zebra’s evolution since its inception in 1997, contextualizing their projects within both cultural and international frameworks.

Design that Connects explores the evolution of consumer and space interaction through Zebra’s mission to connect and create spaces

The book delves into how consumer interactions with spaces have evolved, highlighting Zebra’s commitment to fostering connections and crafting transformative spaces. As a celebration of Zebra’s quarter-century of design innovation, this limited edition showcases the firm’s global influence, featuring projects from over 100 countries and honouring the remarkable individuals and brands that have contributed to shaping the retail and hospitality sectors.

Produced by strategic brand agency Hudson Willow to align with Zebra’s brand and ethos, the book’s sensorial storytelling thoughtfully captures global cultural shifts and catalysts that have shaped the world – and Zebra’s responses to it. Within its pages, readers will immerse themselves in spaces past and present, discovering the essence of Zebra over the years: its unwavering commitment to strong partnership, expert knowledge, creativity, intuition and global reach.

Mark Mason, CEO of Zebra, reflects on the transformative period of the last 25 years, emphasizing the firm’s active engagement in the evolving societal landscape. He notes the profound changes in how people interact and conduct business, underscoring Zebra’s mindful, innovative, and meaningful approach to design.

“Over the last two and a half decades, we have collectively experienced so much change that has influenced every facet of life, altering how we act and transact within the larger societal tapestry. We have borne witness to and participated in this change, through our constant role of designing – mindfully, creatively, commercially, practically and always meaningfully.”

25 Years of Excellence: Mark Mason in Conversation with Mark Faithful

The official launch of Design that Connects took place at Pizza Express, in their atmospheric jazz filled basement, on Dean Street. This flagship venue in London’s Soho, which features in the book, exemplifies Zebra’s design expertise and understanding of what it means to be a client building a brand.

Informare Director Anna King

After a warm welcome by Informare Director Anna King, Mark Mason, CEO at Zebra, sat down with respected retail journalise Mark Faithfull to discuss Zebra’s design heritage and up to the minute industry expertise. Their conversation revealed several important points.

 Mark Faithfull in conversation with Mark Mason, CEO at Zebra

In 1997, the company initially known as RGH Management changed its name to Zebra to reflect its expanding business and maximise on the opportunity for international growth. Mark Mason highlighted a significant change in the industry’s approach to sourcing and sustainability. Previously, interior decorations were sourced from the UK and shipped globally, ‘a shop in a box,’ neglecting local skills. Today, there’s an important focus on reducing carbon footprints by sourcing and fabricating products locally, whilst still aligning with global brand standards.

The internet’s emergence impacted retail by making global pricing more transparent, reducing the incentive for international expansion. However, the hospitality sector benefited differently since the experience it offers cannot be replicated online, creating a point of different and removing price from being the driving factor.

Mark Mason touched upon the closure of high street retailers including Debenhams and Topshop, noting their absence as a loss to towns and cities. He emphasized the need for brand investment to ensure survival and growth. He also speculated on how the upcoming general election might influence the London market and potentially offer new opportunities.

Discussing the COVID-19 pandemic, Mark mentioned that its global legacy continues to affect how people work, with a clear distinction between those who experienced work life before the pandemic and those entering the workforce now, who have no pre-pandemic reference.

Finally, AI’s role in the design industry was discussed. Mark Mason shared his enthusiasm for the opportunities AI presents, highlighting its increasing presence and potential to innovate daily operations. He expressed strong support for exploring and investing in AI to drive forward stating:

‘Many businesses have yet to fully realize the opportunities AI presents or understand its daily applications. However, we’re just starting to uncover the immense potential of this ground breaking technology. We’re at the cusp of seeing rapid developments and results. I am a huge supporter, and potential investor, in moving forward with AI.’

Book launch guests enjoyed live jazz throughout the evening

Looking Forward: Zebra’s Vision for the Next 25 Years

A considered celebration of Zebra’s work over the last quarter of a century, Design that Connects also signals Zebra’s readiness to innovate, alter and move – using design to unlock brand success globally.

The publication of Design that Connects is not a ‘best of’ final album, rather an extremely careful gathering of 25 years of experience and memories, laying a firm foundation for the years to come. Mark Mason, continues:

“We readily anticipate the next 25 years filled with innovation, collaboration, and success as we continue to evolve into the future, together.”


About Alys Bryan

Alys is a knowledgeable design editor who is focused on instigating conversations, both online and in-person, with industry experts which challenge, educate and advance the commercial interior sector. Her training and 15 years of professional experience as a furniture designer for the commercial sector makes her uniquely placed to lead Design Insider as Editor
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