Case Study

Baby, it's Christmas Time

A holiday-themed digital experience inviting locals to shop locally

I was tasked to create a Holiday experience for the launch of Caruso's newest retail development in Pacific Palisades, CA. The challenge was to invite their heritage-rich coastal community to this new mall for the upcoming Holidays. As the lead designer on this project, my role ranged from research, visual design, art direction, motion & sound design to product design. I sourced and directed 2 amazing teams to bring the vision to life: Amsterdam based Adrian & Gigi (paper animations) and Japan based Lullatone (sound design).



the Client

Industry-renowned real estate and hospitality developer Caruso is known for mixed-use, open-air shopping complexes. Their rich portfolio includes the Grove - one of L.A.’s most popular malls, which sees more visitors per day than Disneyland.

Each one of their properties has its own distinct identity, but are all connected and supported by Caruso. They were about to launch their newest innovation-driven retail experience, Palisades Village - a new main street retail experience set up as a 125,000 square-foot village.

As part of the discovery process we studied their brand guidelines, spoke with key stakeholders, worked directly with the CMO, visited the construction site of the new development and learned from the engineering and marketing teams.


The Neighborhood

Pacific Palisades is an upscale seaside Los Angeles community nestled between Malibu and Santa Monica. It has some of the city’s wealthiest residents but offered no retail or restaurants.

When developer Rick Caruso began envisioning "a center of town for a town that had no center" he was met with resistance by the locals. But Caruso was set to re-vitalize downtown Palisades.

They held a town hall meeting where concerns were voiced, as they they didn't want it to feel like a theme park, they didn’t want cars and trucks in and out because of not only traffic but also sound pollution and they were worried about the overall environmental impact on their land.


Palisades Village

The mall was built honoring local's sustainability requests, featuring 77 different tree and plant species and becoming California’s first LEED Gold certified business district. They also host community events to support the local's request for a small-town approach.

“There were many corporate brands that wanted to be in the Palisades, but it we built something that was not commodity-driven but fashion- and style-driven—and also accessible to everyone in the community”. Retailers were curated as this mix of mostly independent, California-grown brands — more than half of them female-owned, along with a revival of the the iconic 1950s Bay Theater.

It was designed as a bespoke walkable village, with bricked walkways and charming storefronts, inspired by the best elements of San Francisco’s Fillmore Street, Boston’s Newbury Street, Cape Cod and St. Tropez.


The Holidays

Caruso is known for their Holidays extravaganzas. The Grove's holiday festivities attracts about 25,000 people bringing their families to see their 100-foot Christmas with 15,000 sparkling lights and 10,000 ornament, fireworks, performers and Santa meet-and-greets.

As this was going to be Palisades Village's first Holiday we had to think deeply about where this new mall fit under Caruso's portfolio and how its Holidays would be uniquely on brand.




Locals demanded a center that meshed seamlessly with the neighborhood—something that looked as if it had developed organically over time. We learned that locals had mixed feelings about the new development, divided between:

Excitement on the revival of their neighborhood. This was specially true with younger generations who craved a place to hang out and missed the local shops that have been shut down for years.

Concern about the overall impact on their community. They showed concern in regards to the actual construction, the increase amount of traffic, sound pollution and the environmental impact on their land. Some even referred the developer as "evil Caruso".

All of the data collected from locals informed us on user concerns, lifestyle, unique traits and shopping behaviors.


How might we invite locals to shop locally?

By crafting a holiday-themed digital experience that brings you back from retail to digital through a gamified reward system.

An app that delivers a delightful experience uniquely authentic to Palisades Village, adds value to the user and ultimately drives foot traffic and sales.




Although Pacific Palisades is located at a premium zip code, their brand and aesthetics fall under “approachable”, “comfortable" and "a neighborhood gathering place". Stakeholders describe it as “not exclusive in the way that Rodeo Drive is exclusive. Everyone can afford a cup of coffee or go to a movie".

We knew we would have to add their unique stamp on Holidays, from color palette, to visual elements to storyboard to the tone of voice - every decision was intentional to deliver a sophisticated, delightful and charming experience.

'Baby, it's Christmas Time' became the umbrella theme. I pitched a couple of visual interpretations as possible directions, and the client and I landed on the concept of layered abstract paper cut shapes inspired by some of their architectural elements.

Running away from the saturated Xmas colors, we assigned a color to each 'bucket', paired by the brand's navy blue. Each scene became a monochromatic 3D paper collage.

Drawings were inspired by some of the architectural elements. There were a couple of iterations on the visuals, as we kept simplifiying the sketches to tell more with less.



The graph explains how a customer experiences the app. There are 4 core flows as 4 key functionalities:

My List: Your shopping list for friends and family in one place.

Directory: Navigate our store directory and save your favorites.

Rewards: Learn how to earn points while you shop with us.

Redeem: Cash in your earnings into gift cards.