See how brands are going beyond temporary pop-ups with ongoing experiential spaces

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To connect with consumers longer than the average one- or two-day pop-up, brands are opening ongoing, experiential spaces. The new approach translates their brand identity—or a certain aspect of their identity—to physical spaces that ideally reaches more consumers.

Luxury vehicle brand Lexus, hemp-infused sparkling water brand Recess, and audiovisual company Dolby all have recently opened permanent or months-long spaces in New York, offering the public the chance participate in activations exclusive to the venue, sample products, and attend special events.

In November, Lexus opened Intersect by Lexus in the meatpacking district. The three-story, permanent lifestyle hub has a restaurant and café, a cocktail bar and lounge, and a public and private gallery space, all designed by Masamichi Katayama of interior design firm Wonderwall. The 16,500-square-foot venue is Lexus’ third permanent Intersect space; the first opened in Tokyo in 2013 and the second opened in Dubai in 2015.

Kirk Edmondson, general manager of Intersect by Lexus in New York, said because of the brand’s involvement in lifestyle programs aimed at helping young creators—such as the Lexus Design Awards and C.F.D.A. Lexus Fashion Initiative—Lexus opened the space as an opportunity to bring to life, and make more consumers aware of, that side of the brand.

“Intersect by Lexus pursues five key pillars for everything within the space: design, technology, entertainment, hospitality, and culinary,” said Edmondson. “Any activation in the space will align with one of the pillars.”

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The most recent public activation at Intersect was “Essential Invisible,” created by interactive experience studio Future Wife. The installation invited guests to see energy they emit in different lights, shapes, and colors, by using the same technology that allows self-driving vehicles see the road.

The venue’s public restaurant, which is operated by Union Square Hospitality Group, has a chefs-in-residence program that rotates every four to six months, in partnership with executive chef Nickolas Martinez, who runs the kitchen year round. The first featured chef was Gregory Marchand of Frenchie in Paris. The second rotation of the chefs-in-residence program will begin in April, with chef Sergio Barroso of Restaurant 040 in Santiago, Chile. The restaurant also has a private dining room, which hosts an ongoing influencer dinner series. 

Recess, a hemp-infused sparkling water brand that was initially sold online, opened its first retail store and experiential space in February. Located in New York’s Noho neighborhood, Recess IRL offers a space made for Instagram, with design and photo ops that incorporate bold pink, orange, and purple color schemes. The brand partnered with creative agency Day Job to launch the space.

“The idea for Recess IRL was simple—to take the brand world we created online and make it come to life in a physical space,” said Benjamin Witte, founder and C.E.O. of Recess. “The space needed to be a place where you could leave the real world for a moment to explore ours, check in with yourself and, for a moment, 'take a recess' from your daily life.”

Along with offering guests Recess cans, the space hosts and curates ticketed events. “We are focused on creating I.R.L. experiences to inspire the creative community in New York, through collaborations with creators and entrepreneurs within that community,” said Witte. “Specifically, Recess understands that ‘wellness’ can be wide reaching, so we’ve been focused on bringing the more undercover wellness movements to the forefront of Recess IRL.”

Events have included Acupuncture for Creativity, hosted by HighPoint; an A.S.M.R. and meditative media experience hosted by Luxury Escapism; and a panel about CBD hosted by Nice Paper.

Witte said the space initially was slated to be open for two months, but after seeing a high volume of visitors and sold out events, the brand extended its lease until at least this summer. The concept is then slated to travel to Los Angeles.

And in SoHo, Dolby opened an experiential space in December called the Dolby SoHo. The space aims to showcase the brand’s products and technology in artistic and creative way, with rotating pop-ups focusing on fashion, film, and more. Pop-ups, which are produced in house, have included a Michael Kors experience during New York Fashion Week and, most recently, “The Contenders,” a showcase of Oscar-nominated and -winning films that were screened with Dolby technology.

The exhibit, which runs through March 10, features interactive, technology-filled exhibits themed after films like Bohemian Rhapsody, A Star Is Born, First Man, BlacKkKlansman, Roma, and Black Panther. The experience, which is free and open to the public, has also held V.I.P. events and includes Oscars-theme photo ops and decor. 

Beyond that, the future of Dolby SoHo is uncertain, as the brand declined to comment on its plans for the space. 
The latest exhibit at Dolby SoHo is "The Contenders," which runs through March 10. The experience, which is free and open to the public, features massive posters of Oscar-winning films in the second-floor windows of the space. The outside of the venue welcomes guests with a red carpet and printed Hollywood stars on the sidewalk.

The latest exhibit at Dolby SoHo is "The Contenders," which runs through March 10. The experience, which is free and open to the public, features massive posters of Oscar-winning films in the second-floor windows of the space. The outside of the venue welcomes guests with a red carpet and printed Hollywood stars on the sidewalk.
Photo: Courtesy of Dolby

 

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