NEW YORK–Last year, Apartment Therapy was forced to turn its first Small / Cool experience into a virtual event due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, the interior design and decor site was able to host a hybrid version of the experience, in a raw space in Soho and online.
Held from June 11-13, the event showcased the top 10 home trends of 2021, each presented in curated rooms – 120 square feet of space – by designers such as Bobby Berk and Ayesha Curry. Each of the designers handpicked furniture and interior design pieces, according to the chosen trend, such as Warm Minimalism, Bringing The Outdoors In, Serenity Now and Flexible Spaces. The designers also provided smart tips and DIY ideas to optimize the limited square footage, like simulating a window with a mirror and drapes, and hanging curtains higher to visually lengthen a room.
During the three-day IRL event, more than 170 influencers, designers, members of the media and brand representatives visited the pop-up studio. As for COVID protocols, masks were mandatory at all times, and upon entering, guests scanned a QR code that initiated a COVID-19 screening waiver.
Photo: Courtesy of Apartment Therapy“We have strategically created five daily one-hour sessions to ensure that guests have enough time to explore the trendy rooms and interact with the products,” said Tara Swansen, Special Projects Director at Apartment Therapy. “After taking into account a small group of Apartment Therapy executives and editors and work teams, we limited the presence of third-party guests to ensure the space was comfortable and captured the space. content, while taking into account social distancing measures. “
Additional measures included hand sanitizer stations at check-in, social distancing floor decals at the entrance, regular sanitizing of toilets and overnight cleaning crews.
As for the virtual experience, instead of playful graphic illustrations like last year, the brand offered a realistic look of IRL rooms using Matterport, an all-in-one platform that turns real spaces into immersive digital models. .
Rebecca Blumhagen, Executive Producer and Director of Originals for Apartment Therapy, explained that “after construction was completed, our video team used Matterport 3D technology, often used in real estate tours, to create scans of the completed space. . The 3D capture was done in one continuous shot, as all the spaces had to connect in a cohesive fashion to allow users to walk through the entire space at once. She added that over 180 scans were taken and edited to create the experience.
Additionally, because the rooms were designed to be purchasable, over 100 product hotspots that triggered purchase information and descriptions have been included. During the in-person event, attendees were able to scan a QR code displayed in each designer’s room to launch a list of products available for purchase.
“Knowing that we couldn’t have a mass presence in space due to COVID restrictions, it was important for us to find a solution that really makes our readers feel like they could experience it.” said Lauren Murphy, vice president of brand innovation. and strategy for Apartment Therapy, on the brand’s decision to use 3D technology. “After exploring several options, we opted for Matterport 3D space capture as the best way to make consumers feel like they’re really there, allowing them to virtually tour every room, to go from thumbnail to thumbnail, to zoom in on products and easily click to buy. them.”
Like last year, Apartment Therapy also hosted a comprehensive list of related programs on social media, some of which were broadcast from the event site, using IG Live, IGTV and IG Reels. “Our goals for social programming were to give our subscribers a behind-the-scenes look at designer inspiration for each trending space, to provide service through practical advice to help our readers maximize small spaces in their own homes. and entice them to go shopping. “said Murphy.
Based on feedback from the 2020 experience, this year’s social media lineup included more “useful content that provided hands-on walkthroughs,” Murphy said. “Readers also told us that they wanted to see real photos, which we delivered, and that they wanted more tours, so we did a ‘Teeny Tour’ of each space with a designer Q&A.”
Photo: Courtesy of Apartment TherapyThe switch to hybrid not only allowed more people to see the experience, but also provided more opportunities for sponsors and partners, including Overstock, BEHR Paint, and Tuft & Needle. On the IRL site, brand-exclusive designers organized the sponsored spaces, while the virtual rooms featured featured products and multiple calls to action.
For example, BEHR Paint, the official paint partner of Small / Cool Experience, sponsored the “Bringing the Indoors Out” vignette, curated by designer and muralist Liz Kamarul. On social media, the brand featured a “paint cam” that featured daily updates from artist Ann Chen, who was painting a mural in her home, and the IGTV Roundtable on Color Prediction of BEHR Paint 2021 has covered painting tips and techniques, the use of color and more.
Photo: Courtesy of Apartment Therapy
Photo: Courtesy of Apartment Therapy