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 chowing down on psychedelic cuisine in Atlantic City, buying vinyl at a Wes Anderson pop-up in London, and peering inside Tutankhamun’s tomb in Barcelona.
1. Film And Gaming Worlds Embrace Co-Creation
Storytelling was front and centre at the Tribeca Film Festival’s inaugural Games and Immersive Experience showcase this year. As reported by Wunderman Thompson, one of the key themes from this year’s event was the rise of co-creative narratives that put the viewer at the heart of the story, giving them agency over the plot. Encapsulating this idea is Over the Rainbow, an avant-garde immersive film that aims to create an open-ended experience for audiences, allowing viewers to feel an integral part of the unfolding narrative. Helping to move entertainment away from prescriptive storytelling, watching the film is more akin to looking at an abstract painting or work of art.
“It’s less about telling you that there’s one answer – it’s really creating a mirror. So, when the audience sees it, they can also see themselves. You’re implicated in the process. You’re watching it, but then you’re in the work yourself,” director Craig Quintero told Wunderman Thompson. Within the film, which explores the balance between desire and happiness, fantasy and the familiar, the viewer is made to feel like the subject of the performance, with the characters breaking the fourth wall to make direct eye contact. Similarly, in retro-inspired video game Pixel Ripped 1978, set in the golden age of gaming, players take on the role of the game’s creator, putting the power in their hands.
2. Psychedelic Cuisine Comes To Atlantic City
Superfrico, which bills itself as an ‘Italian-American-Psychedelic restaurant’, has opened inside The Hook at hotel and casino Caesars Atlantic City. The brainchild of entertainment provocateur Spiegelworld, the trippy eaterie is part of a new immersive entertainment venue accessed via an Art Deco foyer on the Boardwalk, which includes various bars and lounges, acts by magicians and acrobats, and a nightly show. Seeking to inject a dose of fun into the dining experience, the restaurant will serve reimagined Italian classics with a theatrical twist. Blurring the lines between dining and entertainment, the venue is housed in the backstage and dressing room area of The Hook theatre.
“Superfrico is all about breaking rules and creating unexpected and unforgettable new experiences,” said culinary director, Anna Altieri. “Our goal is to transport guests to a world they’ve never experienced before that contains familiar flavours presented in new forms.” Inspired by Italy’s Amalfi Coast, Altieri’s dishes include ‘tingly’ cacio e pepe with tongue-numbing Chinese peppercorns, ‘sexy’ tiramisu with a crunchy meringue topping, and fennel ice cream with yuzu olive oil and Maldon salt. Ramping up the theatre, a cheese wizard can pop up at your table on request to pull and stretch a pound of fresh Belgioioso curd like a giant piece of taffy, then serve it up in various ways.
3. Step Inside Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City
With his casts reading like a who’s who of Hollywood and his pastel-fuelled film sets easy on the eye, many of us would love the chance to live inside a Wes Anderson film. And now lucky Londoners can live the dream at a new immersive exhibition featuring props and costumes from his latest sci-fi smash, Asteroid City, starring Tom Hanks and Scarlett Johansson. As reported by Creative Boom, taking place at 180 Studios on The Strand, the exhibition gives Anderson fans the chance to binge on the Americana of Asteroid City first hand. Set in the mid-1950s, the film follows a grieving father who travels to the desert town with his family to compete in a stargazing event.
Filmed in Spain, Anderson has brought a number of the original sets to London along with props, miniatures, costumes and artwork from the film. The exhibition is spread across three spaces, each of which integrates original audio and video clips from the film into the experience. Best of all, you can end your visit with a trip to the Luncheonette, a replica of the 1950s diner that appears in the film, where you can chow down on cheese toasties, pancakes, cherry pies and milkshakes – or Martinis if you’re seeking something stronger. At the gift shop you can get your hands on collectible Asteroid City merch, including totes, T-shirts, copies of the screenplay and exclusive vinyl.
4. Joy Therapy Takes Travel World By Storm
We’ve covered the emergence of the joy economy with interest at the WXO this year, which has taken in everything from joy workouts to dopamine dressing. Experiencing moments of joy is now viewed as so important to our mental health and wellbeing that scientists are seeking ways to measure happiness in order to use their findings within the field of precision medicine. Scientists have found a link between movement and happiness – proteins called myokines, known as ‘hope molecules’ are released during movement and act as antidepressants in the brain.
The travel industry is in on the act too, and luxury retreats and spas the globe over are helping weary travellers to reconnect with themselves in intentional and therapeutic ways in order to spark joy. As reported by Wunderman Thompson, at the Conscious Living Retreat in Portugal, travellers undergo a personal transformation and increase their emotional intelligence, while Crete’s Daios Cove focuses on fitness, energy and restoration. People are also finding joy in craft-related travel pursuits via creative courses in painting and pottery at Curious House in East Sussex, or learning how to surf then sleeping under the stars at the Wild and Free Surf and Yoga Retreat in Cornwall.
5. LVMH Opens Experiential Venue In Paris
Not content with being the largest luxury good firm in the world, LVMH wants to go one better and become a high-end hospitality and experiential specialist too. From its pop-up Veuve Clicquot hotel to its Tiffany & Co Café, consumers are being given the chance to live the full 360-degree lifestyle of their favourite brands. Moët Hennessy CEO, Philippe Schaus’ current focus is on “crafting experiences”. His latest experiential offering is a cocktail bar and cultural complex set over five floors in a 17th century space in Paris reimagined by Belgian designer Ramy Fischler. Named after free-spirited poet, boxer and Dadaist Arthur Cravan, the venue has opened in literary hangout St-Germain.
Each of the five floors has a different focus, from art and fashion, to film and literature, with three cocktail bars dotted among the different creative spaces. The top floors house a by-invitation-only private atelier and mini Parisian kiosk, perched on the building’s rooftop, where movies will be screened on warm summer nights. The mastermind behind the drinks list, which will feature quirky twists on classic cocktails, is historian-turned-mixologist, Franck Audoux, who is keen for Cravan to become a meeting place for creative exchange in the spirit of nearby literary cafés Le Deux Magots and Café Flore frequented by the likes of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir.
6. Aronofsky To Make A Splash At The Sphere
Oscar-winning filmmaker Darren Aronofsky is one of the big name directors confirmed to be working on a project for the hotly anticipated launch of The Sphere in Las Vegas this autumn. As reported by Collider, Aronofsky will debut an immersive experience called Postcard From Earth – a sci-fi experience blending narrative and documentary – this October at The Sphere, which will blow IMAX and its effects out of the water. Offering viewers a “journey deep into our future as our descendants reflect on our shared home”, Aronofsky told the Hollywood Reporter that the audience experience is at the heart of the film.
“The experience is designed to be as effective as possible to communicate the message we wanted to deliver in an emotional way,” he said. The film will make use of Big Sky, a new camera system developed for The Sphere, which has a 316-megapixel HDR image sensor that can capture 18K x 18K images up to 120 frames per second. Aronofsky revealed that the film will make the most of Big Sky’s capabilities and will include a 20 story-high praying mantis filmed on a macro lens and blown up to a terrifying height. Boasting a wraparound LED display, a custom spatial audio system, 4D capabilities and haptic seats, The Sphere will be a game changer when it opens.
7. King Tut Comes To Barcelona
While Sphinx fans eagerly await the opening of the Grand Museum of Egypt this year, Barcelona-based lovers of Egyptology are in for a treat, as an immersive Tutankhamon experience is coming to the Spanish city this September. As reported by Condé Nast Traveller, the experience will take place within digital arts centre IDEAL and will give visitors the chance to travel back in time 3,400 years and discover the temples, treasures and colourful characters of ancient Egypt. Following on from a successful run in Madrid, the show is the brainchild of Madrid Artes Digitales, Layers of Reality, SOM Produce and Stardust.
Timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the uncovering of the sarcophagus containing Tutankhamun’s mummified remains in 1923 by archaeologist Howard Carter, during the experience visitors will learn about the life of the child pharaoh via cutting-edge projections set to an original score and a metaverse experience that allows you to have a virtual snoop around King Tut’s tomb. Blending the ancient and the modern, the experience features an exhibition hall filled with ancient Egyptian artefacts. After its Spanish run the show will go on the road to Vienna, Hamburg, Munich, Tel-Aviv and Stuttgart.