Blu Dot launches curb-mining social experiment in NY
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Curb-mining, a popular activity for creative types in New York, is the act of finding furniture and art on the street. As a celebration of their upcoming one-year anniversary for their SoHo store, Blu Dot, a furniture and design store, decided to launch a curb-mining experiment.
On November 4-5, they are leaving 20+ Real Good chairs, equipped with GPS tracking devices in to-be-disclosed locations throughout New York. The chairs are free for the taking and are first come, first “mined.”
Michael Hart, co-founder and creative director of mono, the firm who developed the experiment says, “We have seen consumers gravitate to brands who do innovative things and we hope this is one of those things. Blu Dot gets credit for speaking to its audience in a different way.” The company made a conscious choice to stay away from traditional media outreach. Their target is an online audience, who they hope will spread the word. All locations of the chairs will be shared via a Twitter account (@realgoodchair) and a Web site. The other marketing tactic? Xeroxed copies of a “Have you seen this chair?” (a la missing dog) signs posted around the city.
It’s more than giving away chairs, they’re looking for the stories behind the chairs’ new homes.
When people pick up their Real Good chair (that’s the actual name of the chair) they will be linked up to a tracking device.
Kelly Munson, design director at mono, says, “We are not experts at technology, so we enlisted the tech experts, Tellart. We weren’t sure exactly how to track the chairs without being too invasive. We decided to use a simple cell phone attachment with GPS software. Typically you get about 8 hours of battery life from a cell phone, which was a concern. Tellart created an electrical switch to trigger the battery when the chair is picked up.”
Once the chairs find their new homes (which will be determined by the last known location of the GPS), Blu Dot and mono will follow up with the new owners. They’ll invite the owners to participate in a classic-style documentary along the lines of “Where did great design go in the city?” The video will premier at Blu Dot’s anniversary celebration in December before being shared via the Web site.
In the words of Blu Dot, “What would happen if we left a bunch of Real Good Chairs all over New York, free for the take? Who will grab them? Where will they go? How will they get there? What will their new homes look like?” The experiment hopes to answers these questions and engage current and potential customers in a new way.