Milan’s Design Week hosted the unveiling of a collaborative “Crowd Sourced” – “Pop-Up” nightclub concept from Heineken which once again showed that creativity is also synonymous with success
The club concept encouraged collaborative worldwide thinking by having designers and their mentors brainstorm, digest, expand upon and merge their concepts into what was unveiled at the Salone : ” the future of night life ”
19 up and comer designers from Tokyo, Sao Paulo, Milan and New York with the help 100 clubbers from more than 20 cities, who shared their social interaction insights, contributed to the concept club through a virtual creative online hub. This allowed designers and their mentors across countries, cultures and different design disciplines to fuse together ideas with the aim to innovate nightclub design around the world.
Mark van Iterson, Head of Global Design at Heineken said, “Clubs are really interesting spaces for us to explore new design ideas, as they’re social, extrovert and progressive places where design really sets the scene for the nightlife experience. We set out to experiment with ways of making the night more welcoming, more memorable and igniting conversation through design concepts and innovations.”
Heineken sought to create the perfect club—the rare combination of place, space and crowd that makes for a good time. “If you get the energy, the interaction and the vibe right, the club is a great club,” relates van Iterson. “And design can play a crucial role in facilitating that.”
The Heineken Night Club Project
With design and innovation always central to its forward-thinking approach, premium Dutch brewer Heineken spent the last year on an exhaustive world tour, signing up young design talent to help co-create the ultimate innovative concept nightclub.
Working under the guidance of leading design experts from a range of fields – interiors architecture, product design, graphic design, interactive and experiential design, identity design and fashion design – Heineken hand-picked a young team to pool its various talents, encouraging them to explore the ‘science of social engagement’ and collaborate in the production of a boundary-pushing ‘concept club’
Starting with a working title of ‘Open Design Explorations, Edition 1; The Club’, Heineken’s project successfully harnessed hot young design talent from across the globe to conceive a pioneering interpretation of the ‘social space’, creating unexpected, vibrant future concepts, not just for Heineken but also for the wider world of bar-design, dance music culture and social spaces. Specifically, that great melting pot of euphoria and relaxation: the nightclub.
By playing to the needs of clubbers, the designers were able to develop a visionary take on club design, raising the bar on how enjoyable, social and memorable a nightlife experience can be.
The integrity of the project was always uppermost in the minds of the organisers. The Heineken team encouraged the designers to react to insights and personal experience, collaborating with each other and the various coaches, culminating in workable design solutions, rather than designing for design’s sake.
In the creation phase, the consumer insights were integrated in an interactive infographic to inspire the emerging designers.
The global collaboration between designers, their expert coaches, the Heineken team and the clubbers was facilitated by an online creativity hub, the Heineken concept club community. In the first phase over 100 clubbers joined forces in sharing their nightlife experience through discussions and images.
The online research community (MROC), managed by InSites Consulting, provided a 360-degree view on the motivations of people to go clubbing. Not only did this connection provide us with a true understanding of their needs, it also enabled us to introduce great and inspirational clubbers to the designers.
The InSites Consulting project team analysed the conversations to the core and reported these by connecting the shaped insights with designer challenges. The creative designer team joined the community to discuss the issues and themes they discovered and to share their ideas, sketches and images.
To provide inspiration and background 100 clubbers gave insights to club life around the world in the top 20 nightlife cities, and this was used to pose questions to the designers –
How can the VIP area be improved?
What would make the bar/drinks ordering experience more pleasurable/efficient?
What particular elements conspire to make the perfect nightclub?
Should it be subterranean and labyrinthine or light and airy on a vertiginous, penthouse level?
A dark and lovely wonderland of carefully engineered aural balance, alcoves, podiums and soft furnishings?
Or just a hangar-sized space with a big name deejay, a sound system like a 747 engine and at least one efficient and expertly-versed barman for every dozen or so punters?
Designers around the world then fed into a co-creation platform, where they could post ideas, respond to each other’s sketches and initial ideas, discuss topics, and seek advice from mentors.
Effectively, the designers could embark on a virtual club world tour to check out different club environments.
With all this information at their disposal, the designers were given the blank canvas to create their vision of a nightclub.
Similar to how car companies use concept cars to have a dialog with their fans and customers, Heineken sought to create a physical place to express new ideas, and to present them to the world’s largest gathering of design professionals during Milan’s Design Week, with the goal of having a conversation around innovation in the club space.
Heineken has taken a people-centered approach to a place that’s all about, well, people.
But as fascinating as the process is, it’s all about product at the end of the day and audiences don’t get much tougher than the design-savvy Milan public – journalists, punters, other designers
Working under the guidance of leading design experts from a range of fields (interior architecture, product design, graphic design, interactive and experiential design, identity design and fashion design) the project’s selected talent has been asked to explore the ‘science of social engagement’, pooling ideas to produce a boundary-pushing ‘concept club’ incorporating unexpected and vibrant future concepts.
To help the various concepts develop, the group that Heineken terms its mentoring design panel and coaching team were also on hand.
This team of mentors includes;
1) Leemans and Wicker (aka LEW), from the world of fashion design
2) Luc Schurgers, founder of state of the art interaction and animation design lab. MiniVegas, to help inspire interactive & experiential design,
3) Sergio Fabio Rotella, founder and director of Studio Rotella, trend-setting architects of top-end clubs and bars,
4) graphic designer Ramses Dingenouts the creative Director at DBOD,
5) Eugene Bay Director of the VBAT identity design outfit
6) Henk Stallinga, the product designer behind Studio Stallinga.
“We set out to experiment with ways of making the night more welcoming, more memorable and igniting conversation through design concepts and innovations,” says Mark van Iterson, Heineken’s global head of design. “We’re extremely excited, but of course a bit nervous about how it will work out all together in one space as one coherent club.
“However for us this is really more about the journey than about the destination. It gave us so many ideas, energy and new perspectives, that for us internally it’s successful already. “I’m sure that the club will ignite a lot of conversation – that people will have opinions – which is what we’re aiming for,” he added.
“We wanted to design a total environment and experience, while exploring how co-creation could push boundaries, keep surprising adult consumers and be ahead of the game.” Mark van Iterson.
Van Iterson’s expectations are realistic: “For sure, certain elements will never make it to ‘real clubs’, but other elements might impact on club design or Heineken design worldwide for future years.”
The design team focused on six core principles that combine to set the right mood and energy for an enjoyable nightlife journey:
· Connecting: Interacting ‘games’ and unexpected activities take people out of their shells, encouraging social engagement and participation.
· Getting a drink: The interactive bar surface entertains, connects people in playful ways and lets the bar staff know who’s next.
· Discovering: The Club is a place of exploration, packed with intriguing elements from playful interactive features to lighting that surprises people into seeing different images appear around the space.
· Dancing: An alluring dance space invites guests to take the stage under a 3D origami star while the latest video mapping technology creates an interactive sense between the crowd and the DJ.
· Cooling down: With angular seating and other-worldly waitresses, the lounge area, calms the senses whilst inviting clubbers to express their thoughts on an origami-shaped ‘wall’.
· Ending the night: When it’s time to move on, a friendly concierge will guide clubbers onwards, giving directions and arranging cabs home.
“I’m sure that the club will ignite a lot of conversation – that people will have opinions – which is what we’re aiming for,” says Mark van Iterson.
As well as a working knowledge of contemporary nightclub culture, of course. Young talent combined with experience to explore the ‘science of social engagement’ and conceive a pioneering interpretation of the ‘social space’. A fresh approach in considered, practical and intuitive interior design has been central to the development of Heineken’s ‘Open Design Explorations’ project.
During its global search for hot young design talent in the specialized interior discipline, Heineken discovered Kiwi design student Lee Gibson and hooked him up with mentor Fabio Rotella, an Italian architect with vast experience in industrial design and design management. Here, we catch up with the two Heineken collaborators…
Uniting The Club’s three spaces—which include a lounge, bar and dance area—is an origami theme that is applied to every element, reflecting the “changing perspectives” concept that fueled the project.
The layout takes a cue from the team’s logical sequence of a typical night out: Connecting, getting a drink, discovering, dancing, cooling down and ending the night.
A video-mapped DJ booth pumps out killer beats as waitresses in extravagant origami uniforms and custom-designed shoes serve Heinekens from an origami-shaped tray that rests comfortably on the arm and holds up to eight bottles securely so that servers can use their free hand to open the bottles with a matching opener.
An interactive bar features video display counters that lets you order another round with the tap of a finger, and a massive display made from more than 2,500 Heineken bottles features programmed images interspersed with live feeds from the dance floor.
A wall on the dance floor has numbered shelves to place your drink while you dance, and a black origami wall glows with graffiti from the attached chalk pens, allowing club goers to get graphic in a harmless way.
Even the club’s construction was important. Because the club was designed to be easily transportable, assembled and broken down in a cost-effective and sustainable manner, it’s likely that you’ll see it an event near you soon.
During its global search for hot young design talent in the specialized fashion discipline, Heineken teamed up New York-based design student Michelle Wu, Red Dot award winner Patrick Kampff, plus mentors Kim Leemans and Merel Wicker of the cutting edge Amsterdam label LEW.
The fashion team was encouraged to work on the notion of unexpected, vibrant future concepts, collaborating in the wider production of a boundary-pushing ‘concept club’, researching and testing different fabrics for the development of clothing and footwear for the club staff..
Furniture, fixtures, fittings, glassware; it is often the smallest details – as well as the big sounds, vast spaces and VIP rooms that really make a nightclub experience truly memorable. With design and innovation always central to its forward-thinking remit, Heineken has spent the last year on an exhaustive world tour, signing up young talent to help co-create the ultimate innovative concept nightclub.
During its global search for hot young design talent in the specialized product design discipline, Heineken came across the dream team designer duo of Emanuele Magini and Giuseppe Conca, both based in Milan, Italy and hooked them up with a mentor of vast experience and influence – Amsterdam’s Henk Stallinga.
As soon as you walk through the door and clock the touch-sensitive, interactive bar surface, you know you are not in a normal nightclub.
Right from the Heineken project’s earliest inception it was clear that interactive design, ambiance co-ordination, the delicate choreography of the nightclub experience, would play a central role in Heineken’s Open Design Explorations project.
Interaction design essentially describes the interface between humans and digital products, environments, systems, and services.
Usually, this highly specialised design discipline is focused on software development but because interaction design also taps into form and human behaviour, synthesising ideas, satisfying the needs and desires of the product user – imagining things as they could be, instead of on how things are right now – the term has recently been co-opted into other fields of creativity. Nightclub design, for instance.
In order to develop the ultimate nightclub Heineken selected designers and found New York based party organiser Adam Aleksander and film maker Yukihiro Shoda.
Aleksander is a man who thinks very deeply about nocturnal entertainment, preferring to treat it as a precise science that he calls ‘Play’. The mission of ‘Play’, explains Aleksander, is to provide people with a journey and get them to connect through a variety of specifically designed interactive elements.
Outside the venue? ‘It’s my goal, as much as possible, to start interacting with people in the line. Charming them, entertaining them, starting to get them out of their shell,’ explains Aleksander. At the bar, he explains, it’ll be a multitude of low-tech games designed to get people to talk to people they’ve never met before.
Tap a bottle-shaped icon on the screen and pulsing, concentric circles attract the server’s attention and tell him that you have priority over the guy next to you.
When your beer (in its award-winning aluminium bottle) is served (via some specially-commissioned, ergonomically designed trays) the bar man taps the icon to explode it, showing that the order has been fulfilled.
Now watch as your beer ‘connects’ with the bottle next to you, providing a cute, ice-breaking conversation starter.
Extra entertainment was supplied by the images on the Heineken video wall – a massive TV screen with over 2000 green beer bottles replacing pixels.
Waitresses in other-worldly, origami inspired outfits wander around instigating playful dares and other unexpected activities designed to get people out of their shells, encouraging social engagement and participation.
An alluring dance space invites guests to take the stage under a 3D origami star while the latest video mapping technology creates an interactive sense between the crowd and the Massive Music DJs.
Stimulus in the lounge includes different levels of seating and coasters with conversation-starting trivia questions on them.
Pro dancers were planted in the crowd to get the floor rocking. ‘Also, I’d like people to be able to reconnect after the event,’ he says. ‘Perhaps a hub for sharing photos and videos.’
Tokyo-based film maker and motion designer Yukihiro Shoda and Sao Paulo-based Fabricio Lima collaborated with mentor Luc Schurgers of Minivegas, an award winning multidisciplinary creative studio, exploring the ‘science of social engagement’ and considering the pioneering interpretation of the ‘social space’.
Yukihiro and Fabricio were briefed on the notion of unexpected, vibrant future concepts and worked with the wider production of a boundary-pushing ‘concept club’. Different ambient ideas were researched and tested for the development of the Heineken Open Design Explorations Club’s overall image
Heineken’s Open Design Explorations project decided that it was vital to include a graphic design element in its creative brief. In order to develop the ultimate nightclub, nascent graphic design talent – selected by Heineken via the design network PechaKucha – collaborated with experienced design mentors to explore the ‘science of social engagement’ and consider the pioneering interpretation of the ‘social space’.
During its global search for hot young design talent in the specialized graphic design discipline, Heineken discovered Sandra Garcia and Andre Coelho, hooking them up with mentors Ramses Dingenouts and Eugene Bay, both highly experienced creative directors
Having a graphic identity that is immediately recognisable, artfully evocative and versatile enough to work on billboards, t-shirts, mobile phones and computer screens is clearly crucial to the success of a nightclub.
The graphics team was briefed on the notion of ‘future concepts’ to create a boundary-pushing club. Different graphic identities and fonts were researched and tested for the development of The Club’s overall image