Experience Radar: AI Fashion Week Comes To New York, And Solar Energy Informs Home Design

At The WXO, we want to connect the dots across the Experience Economy and across the globe – so each week, we’ll be bringing you our round-up of the experiential stories that we think reveal something interesting, relevant or transferrable about the Experience Economy.

Welcome to the latest Experience Radar, where we’re throwing shapes at a warehouse rave in 1989, swatting up on the UK government’s AI white paper, and enjoying a slice of pistachio cake at the Prada Caffè in Harrods.

1. Gucci Gets The Bored Ape Treatment

Gucci x Yuga Labs

Keen to stay on the bleeding edge of Web3 developments, fashion house Gucci has signed a multi-year partnership with Yuga Labs – the brains behind NFT sensation The Bored Ape Yacht Club – on a new metaverse initiative that builds on past projects by harnessing fictional characters and storylines to engage and reward fans. As reported by Vogue, Gucci will appear in Otherside, an immersive, gamified, NFT-based virtual world inhabited by creatures called Kodas, created by Yuga Labs. Given ownership perks, Bored Ape NFT holders get first dibs on buying digital plots of land in Otherside using crypto currency ApeCoin.

Aiming to blur the boundaries between the physical and digital, as part of the collaboration Gucci will create bespoke clothing for the Otherside and 10KTF, an NFT collection created by Beeple, which is owned by Yuga Labs. “We’re excited to unveil this multifaceted partnership with Yuga Labs, a leader and creative pioneer in web3,” Robert Triefus, chief executive of Gucci Vault & Metaverse Ventures, told Vogue. “This will give us an active role in Otherside and 10KTF’s continuing narrative, unfolding in multiple forms.” Fashion brands have been upping their Web3 presence in recent years, with everyone from Louis Vuitton to Prada creating NFT collections and immersive experiences in the metaverse.

2. UK Government Releases AI White Paper

Open AI’s ChatGPT website

If ever you needed proof of AI’s growing global influence, look no further than the UK government, which has released a “world-leading” white paper on AI to “turbocharge growth” in the sector, drive responsible innovation, and maintain public trust in this revolutionary tech. The paper, devised by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, outlines an all-encompassing approach for regulating the tech as the hype reaches fever pitch. The paper outlines five principles it wants firms to follow: safety, security and robustness; transparency and explainability; fairness; accountability and governance; and contestability and redress.

The government wants firms that use AI tech to ensure they provide an ample level of transparency about how their algorithms are developed, and is calling on regulators to inform companies about their obligations under the white paper. “Artificial intelligence is no longer the stuff of science fiction, and the pace of AI development is staggering, so we need to have rules to make sure it’s developed safely. Our new approach is based on strong principles so that people can trust businesses to unleash this technology of tomorrow,” secretary of state, Michelle Donelan, said. AI is estimated to contribute £3.7 billion to the UK economy each year. OpenAI’s ChatGPT AI chatbot is one of the fastest-growing consumer apps of all time, attracting 100 million active users in February.

3. AI Fashion Week Lands In New York

AI Fashion Week, New York

The world of haute couture is to get its first AI Fashion Week, which will make its debut in New York on 20-21 April. As reported by Vogue, the cutting-edge event aims to showcase the latest advancements in AI within a fashion context. Produced by New York-based AI Studio Maison Meta, AI Fashion Week aims to push the boundaries of what’s possible in the fashion industry by encouraging designers to experiment with new technologies and techniques. Around 60% of participants have used the AI platform Midjourney to create their pieces for the event, which will feature collections created by some of the brightest minds in the AI industry.

From AI-generated togs to virtual runway shows, it’s a must for anyone interested in the intersection of technology and style. Taking place at Soho’s Spring Studios, AI Fashion Week will provide a platform for designers to showcase their vision for the future of fashion and offer a chance for the public to discover the latest innovations in the field. “It’s going to be incredible to show the world that the technology, with a human element, is a big opportunity for a new generation of creatives,” Michael Mente, co-founder of online retailer Revolve, told Vogue. Consultancy McKinsey predicts that AI could add up to US$275bn to the operating profits of the fashion industry in the next five years.

4. The Beat Goes On In Liverpool

In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats, FACT Liverpool

With Eurovision set to take place in Liverpool from 9 May, all eyes will be on the city, whose musical links take in everyone from The Beatles to The Wombats. To amplify the city’s celebrations this year, FACT Liverpool will be putting on a multi-sensory virtual reality rave experience from 20 April to 15 May. The euphoric interactive experience has been created by immersive artist Darren Emerson, and is set to transport ravers back to the heyday of the UK’s Acid House scene through the power of cutting-edge VR tech with 3D modelling, archive materials, 360° video and animation. It previously took up residence at London’s Southbank Centre earlier last year.

Lasting an hour, the experience, which takes place at a virtual illegal warehouse party in 1989, requires ravers to don a VR headset, haptic vest and controllers in order to deliver a multi-sensory music extravaganza. The experience brings to life the stories of promoters, police officers and ravers whose rivalries and relationships drove a working-class dance revolution. “We want to take audiences on a journey. In Pursuit of Repetitive Beats is about communities harnessing DIY culture to bring about change, and those special nights where we find ourselves surrounded by friends and dancing until dawn,” Emerson said.

5. Solar Tech Is Driving High-Design Spaces

Sunne, Marjan van Aubel

Here comes the sun, as news reaches us that the latest developments in solar tech are making a splash in high-design spaces. As reported by Wunderman Thompson, solar energy is getting a makeover and is infiltrating high-end spaces via designer indoor lighting. Sunne lamps mimic solar light and use solar energy as their power source. The Dutch lighting brand worked with Marjan van Aubel to create the pill-shaped lamps, which hang in windows, absorb sunlight during the day, and glow using the energy reserved by photovoltaic cells. The nifty lights have three settings operated via an app.

Ikea also wants to have fun with the sun, and has released a pair of limited-edition solar-powered lamps in collaboration with Little Sun, artist Olafur Eliasson’s social enterprise dedicated to clean energy. The range includes a table lamp informed by the Earth’s orbit around the sun and a portable lamp inspired by Eliasson’s original Little Sun lamp. Forming part of the retailer’s Sammanländ collection, the aims is to raise awareness of alternative energy solutions and encourage people to use solar energy in their homes. “My hope is that more design will be solar without being necessarily ‘solar design’, that is, the solar aspect will be taken for granted as normal,” Eliasson said.

6. Prada Caffè Pops Up At Harrods

Prada Caffè, London

Following on from the success of its Dior Cafe and Louis Vuitton x Yayoi Kusama pop-up, luxury London department store Harrods has come up trumps with the Prada Caffè. As reported by the Evening Standard, the pistachio-green interiors of the all-day café are inspired by the Marchesi cafe in Milan, an 18th century ‘pasticceria’ owned by the Prada group where fashionistas flock for cappuccinos and chantilly cakes. The café’s black-and-white chequered floors mimic those of the historic Prada boutique on Corso Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan.

The space will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner alongside small bites and Italian aperitivo cocktails to whet the appetite. Running until the end of 2023, the venue boasts velvet sofas and floral bas-reliefs adorning the walls. All the tableware is original and was selected by Prada to complement the surroundings: think pale-blue Japanese porcelain with a contrasting double black line and crystal glasses featuring Prada’s triangle motif. On the food front expect Italian classics like burrata, pizzettes and tramezzini sarnies, alongside decadent dishes like spinach and ricotta cannelloni with black truffle and the café’s signature pistachio cake.

7. Victorian Waiting Room Becomes Art Installation

Sarah Sze Courtesy Tanya Bonakdar Gallery and Victoria Miro

When it comes to immersive art we’ve seen it all, from Van Gogh’s swirling skies in vivid 4D to diving into David Hockney’s cooling California swimming pools. The latest London location to get the immersive treatment is a vaulted Victorian waiting room at Peckham Rye station – once one of the largest railways stations in England – which has been shuttered for half a century. As reported by Secret London, sculptor Sarah Sze is set to create an immersive installation inside the cavernous Old Waiting Room, which was repurposed as a billiards hall before closing in the 1970s.

Running from 19 May until 17 September, the free to view installation will form part of Sze’s Timekeepers series of large-scale sculptures. “I’ve always been interested in certain times throughout history where our relationship to the way we experience time and space in the world speeds up radically. The invention of the aeroplane, the invention of the train: you see really interesting work coming out of that time, in film, visual arts and writing. We’re in the middle of an extreme hurricane where we’re learning to speak through images at an exponential pace,” said Sze, who is known for her fragile structures that are complemented by found objects and video footage.