This weekend I visited the Watch the Throne Retail Experience in the trendy section of Manhattan known as SoHo. To celebrate the release of their collaborative album, Jay-Z and Kanye West decorated Openhouse Gallery (201 Mulberry Street) with all sorts of Throne memorabilia. The outside of the store is dressed in the Riccardo Tisci-designed gold album art; it really pops. Friendly security holds the door open for you and keeps count of the number of people inside the store. When you walk inside the store is organized in two sections: the Maybach and the album listening experience. Jay and ‘Ye thought it’d be neat to show off the über-expensive Maybach they stripped, chopped up, and drove in the laid back “Otis” music video. The luxury car, which will be auctioned with the proceeds going to the East African drought disaster, looks really awesome up close. The doors are torn off, the trunk is home to the grill that’s normally installed on the front of the car, suicide doors stick out in the back and give the car wings, the seats have monitors inside of them, the engine looks mean, and there’s sticker on the bumper that reads “What Would Hova Do.” When I was there the security man allowed salivating attendees to snap as many pictures they could within a six second time frame. What I was able to capture sits in the gallery below.
Beyond the Maybach section of the store and down a very short flight of stairs the “Otis” music video plays on a giant wall in silence; a sound system loops the album throughout the store at a comfortable level. The listening experience section is very big; just a handful of people and I stood in the center of the large space and watched “Otis” on a loop. All around the space hefty projectors beam images from the album on the surrounding walls; the album art, the “Otis” American flag artwork, and other imagery that’s stuffed inside the deluxe version of the album are displayed. To the right an attractive woman sells the deluxe copies at $15 a pop. The small retail section consists of a table with the Riccardo Tisci artwork folded open to reveal the aforementioned album imagery. There is also a listing of the album’s tracks and production credits for attendees to glance at. On my way out I noticed DJ equipment set up in the left corner. This must have been used opening night when the pop up store was packed with celebrities like Swizz Beatz, Memphis Bleek, Beyonce, and Jay-Z himself. The store is scheduled to close its doors today at 6PM. I highly recommend you check it out before the limited run is over. On a more general note, I have to say that I love the idea of a pop up store. Openhouse Gallery is a great space in a prime location; hopefully more artists and companies choose to use it when they plan to release anticipated products.
Underneath the pop up store gallery you’ll find a collection of pictures I took while unwrapping the Watch the Throne deluxe album. The duo did a great job putting it together, and it’s no secret that Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy had a big hand in the creative direction. The packaging folds open in a cross-like shape; four of the five panels feature the same embossed pattern and the center one is unique. On the reverse side there are five unique images on each panel: the American flag image of the “Otis” single artwork, dark images of Jay and Kanye with giant fangs, an image of a winged angel with a star pasted on her face, and in the center (the sleeve that holds the CD) is a shiny visual that evokes a slab of wood. The CD is a special edition black colored disc and its face matches the wooden pattern that it’s stored within. Under the angelic imagery lives an 18-panel poster; on one side is colorful artwork that takes design cues from the H.A.M single artwork, and the reverse side spells out the production credits and lyrics for every track. What’s neat is that the lyrics specify when Jay-Z and Kanye rap in each song with the markings JZ and KW. Overall, the packaging manages to elicit what Jay and ‘Ye were originally going for with Watch the Throne: grandiose rap. Tisci successfully channel his aesthetic touch that consists of symmetry, lightness, darkness, sharpness, and 3D. If you’re going to buy a physical copy of the album (and you should!) it’s definitely worth the extra pennies to go deluxe.
Sony Style is a thing of the past. On April 1 Sony opened to the public the very first, totally redesigned Sony retail experience in Los Angeles and they’re calling–drumroll, please–the Sony Store. The press release details the new design quite nicely:
The new store was designed in collaboration with Klein Dytham architecture (KDa). It features a bright, open, inviting space, with products displayed on tables so that consumers can personally interact and engage with them like they would in a home environment. The layout of the store is flexible, with movable interior walls and changeable color schemes so that it can be adapted and reconfigured to highlight specific products, services, or content to engage and delight customers with fresh experiences each time they return.
The wide open store packs some really cool electronics, all made by Sony of course. Inside you’ll be able to interact with 3DTVs, 3D-capable Vaio laptops, PS3 games (with Move), digital cameras, Google TV, and so on and so forth. You’ll also spot the RayModeler, “a futuristic 360-degree display prototype that projects a 3D image that can be seen from all angles.” In the music section you can test out the Walkman and compare sound with Sony’s catalog of headphones; customers are allowed to test out the headphones on the Walkmans and their personal MP3 players. The TV section is walled with the latest and greatest Sony HDTVs and what’s neat is that every set’s price and specs are digitally labeled in the right-hand corner of each screen. And then there’s The Cube, a personal home theater dumped in the middle of the store.
The new Sony Store sounds like tech heaven, doesn’t it? Watch the video above to get a feel for the new design, and if you live in LA you can experience it first-hand by visiting the first rebranded store which is located at the Westfield Century City mall. In time all Sony Style retail locations will switch over to the new moniker, and the company plans on unleashing these new retail experiences nationwide and internationally after gaining customer feedback from the LA launch. Official PR after the break.
The day has finally come. Windows 7, Microsoft’s next major operating system, is out today. Will it turn out to be the “Vista fix” and live up to its positive initial reviews? Only time will tell.
Alongside the release there has been a handful of Windows-related news to peruse. First there’s a slew of new Windows commercials featuring a new tagline; “I’m a PC, and Windows 7 was my idea.” Heck, it works. Check out one commercial here, and look after the break for two others.
Next up is the grand opening of the Microsoft Store. The first MS retail store opened in Scottsdale, AZ today, exciting hundreds of Windows fanboys (and girls) who camped outside the mall overnight. The first four people on-line received free Zune HDs and other early customers received some other freebies. From some YouTube video footage and in-store images the Microsoft Store looks very much like an Apple Store, except with more vibrant colors and, obviously, Windows-related products such as Surface tables and Xbox 360s. The video below is the fascinating countdown of the store’s morning launch; the countdown starts (so appropriately and to the glee of the rabid fans) at 7. For a glimpse at the inside of the store, look after the break for a video featuring the welcoming colorful staff and see the gallery below for some stills. [Also noteworthy is that the online Microsoft Store is up and running, too. It offers MS and third party products and services to purchase online.]
Two more less significant but equally relevant newsbits. Today in Paris a “Microsoft Cafe” opened its doors to the public. Besides it being the onlyofficial Windows-themed cafe in the world, there isn’t much else to say about it. It offers free WiFi service to its customers and there are a myriad of Windows products for customers to play with as they sip their coffee and eat their pastries. See the gallery below for some stills of the Windows Cafe.
This last bit of news is quite freaky, actually. In Japan, Burger King introduced the “Windows 7 Whopper,” a 5-inch tall beast of a burger that packs (you guessed it) seven patties. Customers are forced to pay a premium for this…unique treat (777 yen/$8.53).
Oh, one more thing. Remember that over-the-top awesomely awkward “How to throw a Windows 7 party” ad Microsoft made some time ago? Well the good patrons at Funny or Die have created the ultimate parody of it. Check it out in the video below.
And that’s a wrap. Now that Windows 7 is out…what are you waiting for?! If you are a Vista user or looking to purchase a new PC, upgrading/adopting is a no-brainer. If you are still using XP, hesitance is natural (thanks, Vista) but you should definitely consider jumping into the next generation OS. If you’re that skeptical about it, it doesn’t hurt to wait for Service Pack 1. If you’re a Mac user–I’ll just shut up. Windows 7 is finally here. PARTAY…or don’t.
You’ll start seeing this logo in malls all across the country in no time. It is the official logo for Microsoft’s retail store. According to the patent filing, the logo represents “retail store services and online retail services featuring computers, computer hardware, software, computer games, computer peripherals, portable music players and accessories, personal digital assistants, cell phones and accessories, video game consoles and accessories, webcams, books, clothing, back packs, messenger bags, computer bags and novelty items”.
[Via PC World]
On Friday, Microsoft twittered the following tweet (and attached the above image as a twitpic): “Behind these walls in Scottsdale & Mission Viejo, the first Microsoft retail stores.” I wonder if they will be anything like the leaked documents that were uncovered.
And that’s wack! The rumors are true, people. Radio Shack is officially undergoing a branding make-over to become The Shack. “Hey bro, I’m heading to The Shack.” I know, it sounds like the name of a whore house, right? Anyway, the change is happening during a massive celebration taking place in New York and San Fransisco at the same time. The “Shack Summer Netogether” runs from August 6th-8th and will feature two 17-foot laptops that will be live streaming from each other across the country. I’ll be damned if this rebranding actually helps the sinking ship that is Radio Shack. With Best Buy eating away at the competition (RIP Comp USA), The Shack has little chance at surviving this game for much longer.
If you are not aware, Microsoft is planning to open its own retail stores, just like Apple has with their “Apple Store” nationwide. Gizmodo recently picked up on leaked MS retail store plans that were included in what seems to be a legit powerpoint presentation by Lippicott, a “design and brand strategy” consultant firm. From the looks of the images and details, a ‘Microsoft Store’ may give Apple a run for its money. Back on July 15, this quote was picked up by Giz; Microsoft’s COO Kevin Turner: “And stay tuned, because we’re going to have some retail stores opened up that are opened up right next door to Apple stores this fall. Stay tuned, just stay tuned.” Late last week, Giz found further information about MS’s plans about a retail chain. “Essentially, Microsoft is taking the best elements from the Apple Store, Sony Style and other “flagship” stores. The main focuses are going to be Windows 7, Xbox, PCTV (Windows Media Center) Surface and Windows Mobile, revolving around this concept customer they call “Emily…” One Frank Shaw left a comment on MS’s behalf, firmly stating that these plans are only concepts, and nothing more: “As a part of our process in briefing creative agencies, we shared some early prototypes and concepts of our retail store plans. No final decisions have been made. As we previously announced, we are on track to open retail stores this Fall.” According to CNET, the first two locations of these stores will be in Scottsdale, Arizona and Mission Viejo, California. Microsoft spokeswoman Kim Stocks: “Over a billion people use our products every day yet we don’t always have a way to directly connect with them. We see the physical stores, as well as a consistent online experience, helping that.” With the goal of “going global” MS will directly compete with Apple Retail stores in the near future. There’s even a rumored “answers bar” in the works to go head-to-head with Apple’s Genius Bar. Look after the break for Giz’s summary of the leaked powerpoint presentation and see the gallery below for the leaked in-store plans.