When telecomm giant Vodafone wanted to introduce its business customers to a new suite of enterprise products and services, the company decided to create an exclusive, invitation-only customer experience center at its Milan headquarters. The center needed to be both technically engaging and inventive, an experiential space where customers could learn about the company’s innovative solutions for a rapidly-changing business world.
Sensing Places provided architectural design, experience design, and software development for the 10,000-sq.-ft. Vodafone Experience Center. Following a design and development process that is experience- and visitor-centric, the Sensing Places team started with a marketing and brand analysis based on company reports and stakeholder interviews. The team then developed an experience design master plan that articulates the brand narrative through the various areas of the showroom. Architectural design stemmed from the experience design master plan and supports the brand narrative through volumes, shapes, materials, and colors.
Using this methodology, says Sensing Places founder and CEO Flavia Sparacino,“Software becomes the mind and nervous system of the space, and activates the visitor’s journey through it.”
Vodafone trained its tour guides to use the new technology and accompany small groups of 10-15 through the experience. Visitors are grouped in four main categories: corporate, media, business, and consumers. Using Sensing Places' software, tour guides can quickly reconfigure the program on all displays according to the visitor group. If asked a specific question, guides use their tablets to select a media element and display the answer on the target display.
Sensing Places designed and mapped eight experiential rooms in the center, from the Welcome Room where guests are greeted and introduced informally to Vodafone products and services to the Immersive Video Room and the Innovation Room, a hands-on showcase for Vodafone solutions.
Both physical materials and forms (colors, shapes, textures) and digital technology unify and integrate the experiential spaces, tying the customer experience together and delivering seamless communication among people, objects, devices, and space.
The Vodafone “ribbon,” an undulating wall graphic incorporating the Vodafone logomark, runs along the corridors between the experience rooms, unifying the physical components of the center. Software designed by Sensing Places integrates the individual experiences. A custom mobile (tablet-based) application allows on-the-fly content management of all showroom displays. The same mobile app interfaces with an ambient server to control audio and lighting levels, electronic curtains, and cameras in all areas of the showroom.
A focal point of the space is a large multi-touch interactive table that enables visitors to collaboratively explore product requirements. Using it, visitors can draw, annotate documents, and watch reference videos. The table also helps on-site staff manage conversations with visitors using support material designed for each group of visitors.
Gigantic phones and tablets illustrate Vodafone’s line of mobile applications on large interactive surfaces easily visible by groups of visitors. A visitor management system allows staff members to keep track of all visitors and easily follow up with them after a visit.
“Completely custom software allowed us to fully personalize the experiences and achieve Vodafone’s desired goals,” says Sparacino. “This was a space purpose-built to create an experiential journey for visitors.”
VODAFONE EXPERIENCE CENTER
Client: Vodafone Italia
Experience Design, Architectural Design, and Software Development: Sensing Places
Architect of Record: Dante O. Benini & Partners Architects
AV Consultant: Delta Techno Studio
Photos: Stephen Chiang
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