Whether we like it or not, we all have relationships with brands, but these relationships are changing fast. From milkmen to delivery drones and corn flakes to Kardashians, emerging technologies continue breaking the rules.
“Like me: Our Bond with Brands,” an original exhibition designed by Lippincott, invited visitors to consider their role in this phenomenon. Following its successful run at the London Design Museum, the exhibition made its debut in New York City at the Condé Nast Gallery in One World Trade Center. An open space with five freestanding walls, two banks of digital screens and a sweeping view, the Lippincott designers were given free range to transform this blank slate.
As the elevator doors opened and visitors stepped into the finished gallery, guests were transported into a unique world of brand: The entrance featured oversized sculptures of three iconic brand logos decorated in marquee lights, a wall of original artworks by Don Nice (a contemporary of Andy Warhol) and a 180-degree unobstructed view of downtown Manhattan. As guests ventured further into the space, among the exhibits they found were a series of glass cases devoted to the value that brands may or may not create.
One case displayed a sweater worn by George Clooney, asking visitors to compare the value of a brand versus the stories we tell around them. The other held two “Louis Vuitton” bags, one real and the other a fabulous fake—both loved by their owners, but for different reasons. Then there was an exploded-view sculpture composed of 200 logos by Brooklyn artist Michael Murphy. Stand back far enough and a portrait of the artist’s daughter emerges—a comment on how we identify with, and are identified by, the brands we let into our lives.
The exhibition also featured a Starbucks cup sculpture instantly identifiable even with a hole in place of the logo, a playful look at today’s selfie culture with a “selfie wall” and an interactive video installation forecasting the future. Scenes from movies selected by the Lippincott team, including Ex Machina and The Truman Show, highlighted the technological trends shaping the future. As visitors watched, they were asked to vote on which trend excites them and scares them the most.
On the internal walls, the role of brand in pop culture could be explored along with an informative timeline on the history of brand, from its origins in nature through to today’s AI-driven platform businesses. Visitors were also confronted by a famous pop star’s neon quote that challenged them to consider their own role in the making of a celebrity brand. Finally, a six-foot-tall lenticular shifted the question onto the viewer: Is “getting what you want” but “giving who you are” really worth it?
This was the first immersive exhibition ever to be held at the private Condé Nast Gallery. Through guided tours and a series of events, panels and lecture discussions, thousands of visitors were able to experience the show during its three-week run. Further, the show had a vast online reach, with 18 million earned media impressions globally, and 1.5 million social media impressions using the exhibition’s hashtag, #brandslikeme.
"This project breaks so many rules of exhibition design that it sparked an in-depth discussion among the jurors! It provokes both the viewer and the field of exhibition design."
"Provokes visitors to ask thoughtful questions about themselves and how they engage with mass media and brand culture. Visitors are given cues and questions to analyze and identity their personal role in culture. The bold graphics and exhibit areas are each unique to the question being posed and allow for individualized opinions to be formed on each topic area."
Connie Birdsall (global creative director); Bogdan Geana (design lead); Daniel Johnston, Saki Tanaka, Kaito Gengo, Elena Gil-Chang, Nijel Taylor, Coco Han, Matthew Brownell, Renee Chang (designers); John Marshall, Dan Clay, Joey Rippole, Thiciana Cruz, Lizzie Harris, Aerie Em, Matt Miksa (strategists); Jeremy Darty (production lead); Brendan deVallance (production); Erika Rosenberg (production, licensing); Heather Stern (strategy and marketing lead); Lauren Cascio (strategy, design, marketing); Anna Maltabarow (strategy, marketing); Rachel Robison (strategy, marketing, project manager)
Don Nice (watercolor paintings on loan from Pace Prints); Earth Enterprise (brochure printer); Michael Murphy (sculptor); Getty Images, Shutterstock (photo content); Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, StudioCanal, Antic (video content)
R Too Worldwide, Inc. (primary fabricator)