Meow Wolf’s biggest attraction yet has finally come to Denver. But that’s by no means the whole story. For years, Denver has been preparing for Meow Wolf’s arrival in ways that are impacting not just the city but the entire region – and very likely beyond.
Millennials across the globe increasingly value experiences over material possessions.
For a while now, Denver has been the number one choice of those among them wanting to move to a new city in the US, and a third of Denver residents are now millennials (CNBC). City government took notice, and laid plans to stay ahead of the curve with a multi-year community-generated cultural plan designed to fully integrate arts, culture and creativity into daily life, work and play. These ingredients of Denver’s special sauce are part planned, part serendipitous – and that recipe is the reason Meow Wolf and Alt Ethos CEO and Founder Ethan Bach (who had worked together in Santa Fe on helping to elect a new mayor and in Denver for the Meow Wolf announcement party) recognized the potential and established their primary operations in Denver.
Years in the making, the Meow Wolf Effect is still unfolding.
Early predictions were for 1.5M visitors per annum, but the surge of advance ticket sales suggests there may well be a lot more. Whatever the number, this massive new influx of visitors will have major implications for the creative economy (“Is Meow Wolf good for artists? Overall, yes” – Denver Post), the tourist industry, and the culture at large. It will transform opportunities for growth in entertainment offerings, art sales, retail, and dining, which will have a ripple effect across the region. It’s never been just about the Meow Wolf site itself.
As Ethan says: “The Meow Wolf Effect is an intimate and intentional look into a cultural phenomenon sparking the creative economy in a way that I have not witnessed in my lifetime.
This is our moment of opportunity. If we keep harnessing our collective energy with strategic planning in order to make the best possible outcome, we can make a huge shift in the new economy.”
Experiential design isn’t just a buzzword in marketing. Not only can it be effective for businesses trying to gain customers, there are many other creative uses for this artform. Experiential design is used in art shows, private events, and more recently, live music performances.
From Super Bowl concerts to experimental musicians, this practice is taking hold in the music industry for a variety of reasons. Live concerts aren’t just about the songs anymore. Concert-goers expect a full show, complete with visual entertainment and the opportunity to interact during the performance. While experiential design can be a major concert draw and build fans’ loyalty, it can be difficult to pull off for mobile designs. If you’re planning an experiential design for a concert or live performance, keep these three principles in mind:
Create elements that are on-brand and audience friendly
This should be somewhat obvious, but many designers focus on creating elements that “look cool,” yet are not on-theme with a brand’s message or persona. You must choose elements will add value to the live performance and will drive home the artist’s main message, persona, or theme of their tour. Album art or music videos can serve as great sources of inspiration.
Easy design and maintenance
Offering design elements that are easy to operate and maintain can solidify your relationship with an artist. If your equipment malfunctions or doesn’t operate as intended, no matter the reason, the artist will be disappointed and more likely to choose another partner for their next stage design. While you might have access to a tour technician, you still want to ensure the equipment is easy to use so that you can eliminate as much of the learning curve as possible.
Lightweight and durable
Custom fabricated lighting and set design pieces are some of the most difficult to create because they have to be mobile. You must choose your materials carefully to ensure they are easy enough for a roadie to transport, and durable enough so that if they are tossed around on the trailer, they won’t be permanently damaged. Using waterproof materials when possible is also a plus, making your equipment safe for outdoor concerts.
Just recently, AltEthos built a stage design for experimental electronic musician CloZee who draws on musical inspirations such as Tipper and Amon Tobin. CloZee incorporates intricate light and projection displays into her theatrical performances. We offered her several nature-inspired units using LEDs to cast changing light onto the stage.
Alt Ethos created several free-standing tree trunk units with muslin finish and placed an LED bar to shine through a frosted crack in the surface. The units contain a simple, detachable backboard for maintenance, and come in custom carrying cases for safety. You can view the finished design on our Instagram page.
We hope these interactive, colorful trees serve CloZee well on her 2018 tour, as using these three mobile design principles supported our stage design philosophy. For more information on how AltEthos does stage and experiential design, click here.