Experience Radar: Milan Design Week Goes ‘Hyper Immersive’, And Revenge Raving Trend Takes Hold

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 trying on colour-changing clothes in Milan, marvelling over ancient artworks with the help of VR in Andalusia, and competing for coveted NFTs in the Runiverse.

1. Milan Design Week Goes ‘Hyper Immersive’

Headline and above image; Crystal Beat by Preciosa at Milan Design Week; Shaped by Water, Google at Milan Design Week

There were some interesting trends in play at this year’s Milan Design Week in the Italian capital, which showcased a wide range of product and design concepts influenced by all corners of the globe. As reported by Wunderman Thompson, among the key takeaways from the event was the rise in hyper-immersive spaces, spearheaded by Google’s ‘Shaped by Water’ exhibition celebrating the visual and tactile sensations that tech can transpose on a viewer.

LA-based artist Lachlan Turczan’s displays included pools of water in mirrored sculptures that responded to movement, and a space with light patterns that danced with paired sounds and vibrations. The show also shone a light on multi-sensory activations, including Preciosa’s ‘labyrinth of rhythm and light’ featuring crystal lights synched to music. Thermo tech also made a cameo at the event, with menswear brand Stone Island showcasing thermochromic apparel that changes colour based on the surrounding temperature, while hot topic of AI was in full force, with Fila using AI tools to riff on its logo’s evolution.

2. Put Your Best Foot Forward In The Runiverse

Runiverse x ESL

Fitness fanatics take note – metaverse gaming platform Runiverse has joined forces with ESL, the world’s largest esports tournament platform, in a bid to revolutionise Web3 gaming within the esports community. Blurring the lines between traditional gaming and Web3 gaming, the collaboration aims to provide players with a new way to showcase their skills and earn rewards while competing with others. Runiverse’s ‘run-to-earn’ concept combines social competition with blockchain tech to create a safe and entertaining space for players to race against each other using real-time token market data.

Creating a community of competitors, the game features unique tracks that allow players to earn rewards through rallies and obtaining Player’s NFTs, which earn the holder a 6% reward from the prize pool. “We’re excited to be hosted on a globally recognised tournament platform such as ESL,” said Runiverse’s COO, Gip Cutrino. “This project will extend beyond the reach of the gaming industry, as we look to bridge the gap between traditional gaming and Web3 gaming in a revolutionary new manner.” German-based ESL has previously hosted CS:GO and DOTA 2 tournaments that were followed by gaming fans all over the globe.

3. Largest VR Space In Spain Opens In Nerja

Virtual Reality room at the Nerja cave

Proving that ancient spaces and cutting-edge tech can happily cohabit, Spain’s largest virtual reality hub has opened inside the Cueva de Nerja, a series of naturally formed caves and caverns in the hills of Maro in Andalusia, which boasts wall paintings dating back over 40,000 years. As reported by Spanish newspaper Sur, the new experience at one of the most visited attractions in Malaga allows visitors to see spaces that are closed off to the public for safety reasons and ‘touch’ cave art from the largest collection of prehistoric works in Europe, which has thus far been off limits for conversation reasons.

The 360-degree VR tour lasts twelve minutes and is hosted by the cave’s new mascot, animated character Tadeo Jones, following an agreement with production company Telecinco Cinema. It takes the visitor on a journey through Nerja, the Maro waterfall, the geological formation of the cave and the ancient cave paintings featuring images of a Neanderthal man. Taking place over two rooms, the experience can be enjoyed by 360 people per hour, and includes a virtual tour of the galleries open to the public for those with mobility issues who aren’t able to explore the caves, meaning they don’t miss out.

4. Revenge Raving Trend Is Taking Hold

Apollo’s Muse, London

With the cost of living crisis biting, an interesting new counter trend for hedonism and excess is emerging as a form of rebellion. As reported by Wunderman Thompson, a communal desire for escapism and emotional release is inspiring a slew of new cultural gathering spaces, such as the unashamedly brazen Bacchanalia in Mayfair, inspired by the unrestrained extravagance of ancient Greece. Offering pure escapism, inside Bacchanalia you can be fed grapes by the venue’s in-house ‘feeder’, be served by waiters in togas and dine under giant statues of winged lions and unicorns.

Even more exclusive is the venue’s spin-off private members’ club, Apollo’s Muse, which is strictly limited to 500 chosen ones, who are encouraged to drink from Murano wine glasses and roam among owner Richard Caring’s collection of Greco-Roman antiquities. Across the pond in Singapore a trend for ‘revenge raving’ is ramping up after years of stifling covid restrictions that saw nightclubs shuttered and parties postponed. A global thirst for unusual experiences is fuelling the trend, alongside a desire to escape the daily drudgery and be taken on a flight of fancy in a bid to reawaken a sense of wonder and feel alive again.

5. Gardens Are Bringing The Inside Out

Indoor Outdoor Natural Rug, Dunelm

During the pandemic we were obsessed with ways of brining the outside into our homes, and now the trend has been flipped on its head, as homeowners seek to recreate the comfort of indoors in their al fresco spaces. As reported by The Handbook, those lucky enough to have outside spaces are looking to turn their gardens into leafy living rooms to make their outdoor time as cosy as possible via coffee table set-ups in the garden to terraces plucked from Ibiza’s playbook. The key is to choose an aesthetic that aligns with your interiors.

The lines between indoor and outdoor spaces are set to become increasingly blurred this year as homely elements are weaved into al fresco spaces. With people having heavily invested in their gardens during the pandemic, they’re keen to spend as much time as possible in them – weather permitting – with pouffs, outdoor rugs, L-shaped sofas and party tents all trending this year. Outdoor kitchens are also on the rise, as people seek to move beyond the humble barbecue and offer their guests a next level al fresco dining experience.

6. Step Inside Ariel’s Grotto In Atlanta

Little Mermaid immersive retail experience, Camp and Disney

To mark the release of The Little Mermaid remake, produced by Hamilton creator Lin Manuel-Miranda, experiential toyshop Camp in Atlanta is opening an immersive retail experience inspired by the film. As reported by BlooLoop, the 5,300-square-foot underwater world will launch on 3 June at Camp’s new store in Georgia, where shoppers can immerse themselves in live music, puppetry and magic. Latching onto the portal concept, visitors enter the space via a ‘magic door’ where they will be greeted by musicians playing popular hits from the film, including Under the Sea, Part of Your World and Kiss the Girl.

The space will also boast reimagined versions of Ariel’s grotto, Ursula’s dark lair and King Triton’s Palace, where you can sit on his throne and control the seas with his trident. There’s also the chance to explore an abandoned shipwreck. “Storytelling is at the heart of what we do, and our continued collaboration with Camp allows us to bring new audiences into Disney’s beloved stories through innovative and immersive retail experiences that families can enjoy together,” said Naveen Seshadri, Disney’s executive vice president of global retail.

7. London Biennale Shines Light On Co-Creation

Malta Pavilion, Courtesy London Design Biennale

Due to take place from 1-25 June, the fourth edition of the London Design Biennale will shine a light on co-creation this year. Under the theme: The Global Game: Remapping Collaborations, the event, led by Holland’s Nieuwe Instituut and its artistic director Aric Chen, will bring together some of the world’s most ambitious and imaginative designers, curators and design institutes. Taking over the entirety of Somerset House, participants from 50 countries will be invited to imagine and enact new forms of international cooperation, including with each other, through the medium of design across 45 pavilions.

Humanoid robot Ai-Da will be making a cameo at the event, while new concept Eureka will showcase design-led innovation from the UK’s leading research centres, featuring cross-disciplinary invention and creativity from academics and problem solvers. The area will explore a wide range of topics, from city planning to the emotional significance of our oceans. The King’s College London pavilion, ‘Seeking Connection’, will explore the ways we’re learning to live well with tech and navigate opportunities for meaningful connections through innovations like the ‘Purrble’ a cuddly companion designed to guide emotion regulation for young people struggling with their mental health.