For years retailers have been trying to figure out the right formula for integrating digital experiences and shopping into their store windows. The more shopping focused windows have been from brands like Ralph Lauren who has tried using QR codes to let you buy the items in the window or use an iPhone app to customize a Ralph Lauren Rugby shirt. Interactive store windows have used all different technologies to let shoppers interact with them like the Top Chef slot machines that were texting activated. The problem was that all of these solutions looked to another piece of technology like a smartphone to make them work. I just saw an interesting new solution to create an interactive store window at the Cartier flagship store in New York City where shoppers can open and close jewelry boxes with just a wave of their hand.
You can watch the video above which shows the entire creation process and can see the windows in action. There are motors are hidden underneath the table, along with a Mac Mini that control the movement of the boxes. I really like this approach because it let’s anyone control and interact with the windows without an additional piece of technology like a smartphone. If you are in NYC and want to brave the hoards of tourists swing by the Cartier flagship store at 52nd and 5th and check them out.
Read more of: Cartier interactive holiday windows »
Ralph Lauren has been one of the few real bright spots in the use of digital technology within the luxury fashion industry which has always painfully lagged behind other major brands. I recently found video and a short documentary of an incredible example of creating branded experiental content that took place last November on the façade of the designer’s London and New York City flagship locations. They used those flagship locations as a canvas for a 10 minute, 4D optical illusion projection mapped to the architecture of the buildings that celebrated of 10 years of RalphLauren.com in the U.S. and the launch of e-commerce in the UK. The experience was broken into 15 scenes including Polo players playing polo, a runway show with models appearing to walk on the edge of the building, a belt wrapping the mansion,a huge display of the new Ralph Lauren Ricky bag and the designer himself taking a digital bow at the end. This type of 4D projection gives the illusion that the images were extending beyond the building and floating out into space toward the audience. Other portions of the show went beyond the visible presentation when the large cologne bottles came onto the building and “sprayed” the audience and the scent was blown out into the crowd.
This is an incredible example of modern experiental branding that creates rich experiental currency that consumers will spend in their social media circles giving the brand huge exposure. You can see the complete New York show here and the London show here.
Read more of: Ralph Lauren takes branded content into 4D »
The UK ice cream brand Magnum had launched a very cool new microsite called Pleasure Hunt to promote their products. What makes the site so interesting is that you control a female avatar who starts on the Magnum site but then runs through multiple web sites including portals like YouTube and other sites for other brands like Samsung, Dove and Saab collecting Magnum chocolates. The experience is something like playing a hybrid of old school games like Pac Man and Pitfall. The game augments the simple right, left and jump game mechanics with the ability to jump on pieces of navigation, trigger animated actions that move you rom page to page or through long pages. Then, like any good game, they also change the pacing and move from the running / jumping mechanic to things like being able to control a hand glider or drive a car. All of this variety and interactivity adds up a to really great experience that keeps the game interesting and keeps you wanting to see what happens next. I also really like that Magnum went out and partnered with those other brands to use in the game because it’s great exposure for both brands and makes the experience a lot more interesting.
Read more of: Running across brands and the Internet for chocolate »
Red Bull just launched a really interesting new microsite called Street Art View built on Google Street View to collect and showcase global street art. You simply tag your favorite urban artwork and help build the biggest art collection in the world. Right now there aren’t many places and artists tagged but ones that are there are really good including Banksy and Space Invader (If you don’t know who they are be ashamed and see Exit Through The Gift Shop as soon as possible). I love the idea and the use of the infrastructure and content in Google Street View to create this collection. If there is some local street art you like or you created tag it and help this site take off.
Read more of: Red Bull wants to make the world’s largest street art collection »
Anyone who lives or works in New York will tell you that if you that they avoid Times Square and the throngs of slow moving tourists that inhabit it like the plague. It is just one of those area of the city that you only go to when you have friends on town or you need to send someone a cheesy and overprices NYC souvenir.
I recently found a really interesting project started by Justus Bruns who is a 22-year old student from The Netherlands that looks to change that experience and turn the 50,000 sq. feet of billboard space in Times Square into one huge art gallery for a day. The reality is that Times Square gets 35 million visitors a year while the biggest museum (Museum of Modern Art) only gets 2.5 million visitors a year so I love the idea of using a stage that big to bring more attention to the arts. Right now they are taking donations and trying to organize online and offline activities to gather people from around the globe to start believing in this idea. If you want to learn more you can read a lengthy FAQ here and please think about making a donation to get this great idea off the ground.
Read more of: Lets turn Times Square to Art Square »
Singer/song-writer Lissie has release a new music video on her web site that is controlled by the current weather conditions in your location. When you get to her site it will determine your current position or you can choose yourself and the background of the video will change according to the current weather outside. If you select a new location while the video is playing a TV weatherman will provide a new forecast as an intermission while the video transitions to the new location’s weather. I think creating this type of unique digital experience is a smart investment for artists trying to break into the main stream media consciousness and you only have to look at OK GO’s YouTube sensation ‘Here It Goes Again’ to see the possibilities.
Read more of: Cloudy with a chance of music videos »
In tokyo near the Tachikawa station amidst a shopping district you will find the N Building. It is unique because if you have ever been to Asia you know that most ever building in these commercial districts has signs and billboards covering almost ever inch of the facade but not in this case. The facade of the N Building is one giant QR code that triggers up to date shop information, Tweets from building residents and even AR decorations for different seasons and events. Check out the video above for all the details but I think this is a fascinating direction for new retail experiences that can go far beyond the traditional store windows and branding.
Read more of: Architecture + digital technology = N Building Tokyo »
Because of it’s ability to seamlessly combine Mr. Wizard, The Muppets and Julia Child in one package, Good Eats with host Alton Brown has been my favorite cooking show for years. Recently Alton has taken to advertising pitchman for brand like Welches Juices and now Salt. This is part of a recent trend where many different vilified ingredients like high fructose corn syrup and salt have turned to advertising to try and salvage their image.
In this case Diamond Crystal Salt has launched a new site called Salt101.com which is a modern homage to a 1960′s educational film. You start off in the lobby of the Diamond Crystal Salt Education and Experimentation Center for the Betterment of Flavor Enhancement where Alton directs you to the two halves of the site – the kitchen and the lab. In the kitchen where you can learn how use salt properly and the lab where you learn how Diamond Salt is different from convention table salt. Both areas are a mix of large, high quality video done with a nice infusion of Good Eat’s style props and humor. Both areas of the site also feature interactive games that do a nice job of turning the passive viewing experience into a fun, interactive learning experience. So while it doesn’t make me want to run out and hike up my blood pressure it is by far the best food site I have seen in a long time.
Read more of: Salt 101 with Alton Brown »
If you have seen me speak at a conference or have read this blog for any length of time you know that I am motivated by my fellow designers but I am truly inspired by chefs and avant garde cuisine. I have sought out conversations with modern day culinary visionaries like Ferran Adria and Heston Blumenthal to discuss their food but mostly find out about their creative process. So this year when I had the chance to speak at FUSE I was excited for the opportunity to talk to an audience of that caliber but also because I would finally have me the time to fulfill a dream and visit two of the counties most progressive restaurants on two consecutive nights – Alinea and Moto. Of the two restaurants I had a lot more knowledge of Alinea after having a conversation with the chef Grant Achatz at an AdAge event last year and I have cooked a number of recipes from his cookbook. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Moto because I had only seen one episode of their new show Future Food and had read a few articles about chefs Homaro Cantu and Ben Roche. All of that aside I went into it knowing no matter what happened it was going to be a lot of fun and a great experience.
So last Friday after I was done speaking at FUSE we ran back to the hotel to change and then headed over to Moto. The restaurant is located in a slightly industrial area north west of downtown with an unassuming facade and simple sign. We had originally planned on getting their smaller 10 course tasting menu but once the waiter presented us with the menu that was served with artichokes and s sauce because it is actually edible, my wife and I looked at each other and then simultaneously informed the waiter we had changed our minds and would be having the full tasting menu. We started with a candle bring brought to the table to help with the dim lighting and we were off and running. A few courses in a bowl of re-imagined loaded french fries was brought to the table and the waiter extinguished the aforementioned candle and poured over the potatoes. Like an great and memorable experience it is about surprise and delight. In this case I was surprised that they poured the candle on our food and delighted that it was actually a beef fat candle. From there the meal went on to dishes like a cuban cigar served in a real ash tray that was actually pulled pork wrapped in collard greens with an edible cigar band and powered sesame seeds for the ash. A cherry bomb dessert that is brought to the table and lit on fire only to find out that it was a chocolate shell filled a graham cracker liquid and a marshmallow fuse to make a re-imagined smore. And the 20+ courses just kept coming finally ending after around 3 1/2 hours. At the end of the meal I could only think of one meal I had in my life that tasted better and I couldn’t remember any meal where the creativity and fun made smile and laugh more than this one.
After any great dinner I always ask the waiter if it would be possible to get a tour of the kitchen because my creative and curious nature kicks back in and I want to see how it is set up and how the team works. In this case they were happy to oblige me and we were taken down a stairway at the front of the restaurant to the small private dining room and lab where the team concepts their amazing dishes. We then went through two sets of doors and into the kitchen. Executive Sous Chef Darrell Nemeth immediately jumped out from behind the line to high-fived both of us with a huge smile on his face. It was by far the most unique and exuberant reception I have ever had in any kitchen . Then sous chef Richard Farina introduced us to the whole team, talked about how the kitchen is run and after mentioning how much I loved their version of a Funion from their french onion soup course I found myself with a of them to take home. Then it was up the stairs for a demonstration of their liquid Nitrogen tank and a speech from my wife about how I don’t need one for my kitchen at home.
The reason why this meal was so transcendent for me wasn’t simply because of the food. It was because after having that meal and seeing that kitchen in action I could clearly see that when it comes to creativity and creating a culture where original ideas can flourish these guys have it down cold. I could see that because I watched a kitchen that brought to life every one of the concepts I had talked about earlier that same day for running a world class design studio. They have hired incredibly passionate artists and had the confidence and culture that gave them all, from the chef who and been there 2 days to one of the founders, an equal say in the creative process. That trust inspires confidence and has created created that critical culture of failure where everyone knows it’s a safe environment where taking risks, questioning conventions and having ideas completely fail is a critical part of the creative process you have to go through to create big new ideas. If you pay attention you can see that culture and those concepts expressed through something as simple as the celebratory exuberance of the high five from Darrell Nemeth who knew we loved the food to the conversations we had with the other chefs who wanted to know what we loved and what we hated. They have embraced the fact that some ideas are home runs, some are on the road to greatness and some need to be completely re-worked and they are fine with all of it. So if you are challenged with running any type of creative and/or idea driven group get to Moto as fast as you can to have this experience, to talk to this these chefs and see how a team with that type of focus should be run. I am already booked to speak at another conference in Chicago in the end of September and I’ll give you two guesses where I will be that night with a big smile on my face.
Read more of: Hello Moto »
Burger King and Crispin Porter have launched a great new digital element to support their “Small hands” TV commercials where they are branding the error message on Digg.com. If you type in anything that yields no search results you will see:
Looks like your search had a typo. Maybe you’ve got tiny hands?
The $1 BURGER KING® Double Cheeseburger is so big and beefy it’s not for the tiny handed.
Click here to see why it might be too much for you to handle. Mr. Tiny Hands.
Like Whopper Sacrifice I think this new work shows a lot of really smart insight into the digital world by putting messaging in places where people do not expect it, where people will actually pay attention and where it will create a meaningful brand impression.
Read more of: Burger King gives Digg.com results tiny hands »