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 Experience Radar, where we’re learning how to bring more joy into our lives, being transported back to Elizabethan London, and co-creating AI art with a little help from Baz Luhrmann.
1. Connection Is The Key To Happiness
Headline and above image; Mirroir Mirroir by Moment Factory, Montreal; Curious House, Saltwick Media
We’re a happy bunch at the WXO, and have been following the ‘joyconomy’ trend with interest, with everything from dopamine dressing for a mood lift to workouts that spark joy taking centre stage this year. With 2022 going down as the saddest year on record according to the ONS, it’s not surprising that we’re seeking ways to inject happiness into our worlds. Condé Nast Traveller reports that ‘joy therapy’ is on the rise, as people increasingly prioritise positivity and make room for more joy in their everyday lives, rather than it being something that’s rationed for special occasions. Psychologist Sophie Cliff, aka ‘the joyful coach’, believes joy and positivity are the key to leading a happy, healthy life.
“There are things that we can do to improve our health and the research behind positive psychology shows that there are so many benefits to prioritising positivity and rest – it improves our health and relationships, and it can help to make us more successful at work,” Cliff told CNT. Experience designers will be cheered to hear that connecting with other humans is the biggest predictor of joy and one of the easiest ways we can feel happier. “We need to feel connected to experience joy; it’s part of how we’re wired as humans,” says Cliff. Gratitude and appreciating what we already have is another way to boost our happiness levels. They key lies in knowing what makes you happy and seeking it out.
2. The Bard Gets His Own London Museum
Museum of Shakespeare, Bompas & Parr
Shakespeare is the latest literary titan to get the immersive treatment, as a permanent interactive venue focused on the bard will open its doors in London’s Shoreditch next spring. Transporting visitors back to the sights, sounds and smells of 16th-century London (clothes pegs at the ready), the Museum of Shakespeare will allow guests to follow in the footsteps of the famous playwright for a day. Set in 1598 within the archaeological remains of The Curtain Playhouse in Hackney, which were excavated in 2016, the museum will include original objects from Elizabethan London alongside multisensory experiences and the chance for people to flex their creative skills on the stage where Shakespeare presented some of his earliest performances.
The museum is the brainchild of experience design specialists Bompas & Parr, who collaborated with the Museum of London Archaeology, Historic England and a panel of Shakespearean academic advisors on their most ambitious project to date. Harry Parr said the idea for the venue came from a desire to create location-based experiences “that make London a more interesting place and a city unrivalled in its cultural importance and reputation for world-class entertainment. This will be Shakespeare as you have never experienced it before.” A projected reconstruction of the Playhouse will allow visitors to see how the space looked in Shakespeare’s time, while AI tech will place them in animated performances and workshops will test their flair for storytelling.
3. Space Tourism Just Got Fancy
The space tourism race is on and entrepreneurs are coming up with ever more elaborate ways to seduce wannabe astronauts into parting with colossal sums of cash to give them a taste of space. As reported by The Express, Toulouse-based firm Zephalto is offering well-heeled punters the chance to sip fine wine 15 miles above the Earth’s surface – if they’re willing to pay £105,000 for the privilege. Dubbed an “overwhelming experience that transcends humanity” and giving travellers a new perspective on the universe, the six-hour experience will take six passengers and two pilots up to the middle of the stratosphere in a pressurised capsule connected to a helium balloon the size of the Sacré Coeur.
The Celeste, which will boast interiors designed by Joseph Dirand, is due to make its maiden voyage in 2025, letting passengers admire the curvature of the Earth, its blue halo and the stars. Zephalto has partnered with the French National Centre for Space Studies on the project, which will see the Celeste peak in the mid-stratosphere, meaning passengers won’t get to experience the feeling of weightlessness enjoyed by astronauts. On the plus side, no specialist experience will be required beyond two days of prep prior to departure. Before boarding passengers will feast on French fancies and will enjoy French wines on board, while an in-flight photographer captures the experience.
4. Mirroir Mirroir Lands In Montreal
Mirroir Mirroir by Moment Factory, Montreal
Moment Factory is the brains behind an exciting new immersive art experience in Montreal. Taking place at Place Bonaventure in downtown Montreal, Mirroir Mirroir invites visitors into a chromatic world of light and sound inspired by “the human mind and its endless creativity”. Combining scenography, lighting design, original music and interactivity to create a multimedia experience that invites attendees to explore the hidden depths of the imagination, the show seeks to answer complex conundrums, such as where we go in our dreams and when we’re lost in thought.
Taking place until 18 June, during the experience thoughts generate poems, words become light, and gestures can spark a transformation. Across five immersive installations inspired by memory, imagination, dreams and consciousness, visitors are invited to create their own unique engagement with the experience. Everyone begins the journey by selecting one of three doors, and from there, visitors can explore the experience at their own pace. During the design process, Moment Factory tapped into inspiring themes and their in-house R&D to express the artistic vision of their creative and technical teams.
5. Gyms Are Getting The Lux Treatment
Forget breaking a sweat in a spit-and-sawdust venue: high-end gyms are being reimagined as aspirational, luxurious venues akin to private members’ clubs. As reported by Wunderman Thompson, gyms are morphing into ultra-exclusive clubs catering to niche high-net-worth communities within the wellness world, providing a communal space for likeminded people to meet and mingle – providing they pass the strict vetting process. Uber-swish “wellness destination” Ghost in Brooklyn, where membership requires a rigorous interview and will set you back $300 a month, is targeted at thought leaders, creatives and executives.
At the Monarch Athletic Club in West Hollywood, meanwhile, members undergo a medical evaluation, training assessment and physical therapy to join the club, which offers IV therapy, ice baths and physician access for its highest-paying members. In order to keep communities tight knit, a number of these luxe venues, such as Forma Pilates studio, will only accept new members by referral à la Soho House, and member numbers are capped to keep the experience exclusive. With health being prized as one of our most precious luxuries, and consumers increasingly craving like-minded communities and safe spaces for expression, we can expect to see this trend run and run…
6. Gin Brand Champions Co-Creative AI Art
Saw This, Made This, Bombay Sapphire Installation Series Announcement
Bombay Sapphire and celebrated director Baz Luhrmann have teamed up for ‘Saw This, Made This’, a creative experience that combines user-generated art and paintings made by an AI-powered robot. As reported by Marketing Dive, during the experience Ai-Da Robot, billed as the world’s first “ultra-realistic artist robot,” will paint live in the Eye to A.I. studio as part of the installation, which made its debut at the London’s Design Museum in April and will move to New York’s Chelsea Factory in May. The gin brand has come up with a novel way to tap into growing interest around AI, as the art in the show includes traces of user-generated content shared with the #SawThisMadeThis hashtag.
Bombay Sapphire launched the campaign last year, enlisting the help of Baz Luhrmann in the role of creative director, who asked fans of the brand to share images of what they ‘saw’ and then ‘made’ into art via social media. The result is being dubbed by the brand as “the world’s largest mass participation AI art event”. The final artwork painted by Ai-Da will be made available as a free, limited-edition download via the Bombay Sapphire website. This isn’t the first time the gin brand has put itself at the cutting-edge of art and tech. In 2019 it launched an installation that let the public paint a canvas through robot arms.
7. Get Up Close And Personal With The Crown
AR Crown experience by Atlantic Productions
Those keen to feel more closely connected to the Coronation on 6 May rather than just passively watching the ceremony on the box can make the most of an AR experience that allows you to marvel at the crown up close in all its bejewelled glory and intricate detail. As reported by Sky News, the immersive experience, masterminded by Atlantic Productions, will let people around the world bring digital twins of King and the Queen Consort’s crowns – the St Edward’s Crown to be worn by Charles, and Queen Mary’s Crown to be worn by Camilla – into their homes using AR tech powered through their smartphones.
Celebrating the beginning of King Charles III’s reign, the experience is designed to provide an inspiring way to learn about the crown’s history via AR tech, allowing people to immersing themselves in the pomp and pageantry of the event. Users can examine the crowns up close, move around the gold, diamonds and precious stones, and learn about their history and craftsmanship by clicking on various hotspots. The experience includes exclusive macro footage shot at the Tower of London of other significant crown jewels, including the sword of offering, the sovereign’s sceptre, the coronation spoon, and the sovereign’s orb.