Looking to brighten up the party at the 2012 Milan Furniture Fair and beyond, Heineken plans to sponsor a pop up club contest. The idea was hatched at the fair two years ago when global design and concept manager Mark van Iterson visited the Salone. The company was on the lookout for an ephemeral marketing idea that would make a nice splash–a beer equivalent of a concept car or couture, a top tier notion with a nice trickle down effect. But when the Icelandic volcanic ash kept him earthbound longer than he expected, he decided leave the exhibits and hit the party circuit instead. It was at one of the fair’s many venues he had his Isaac Newton moment. “I found it a bit dull, and we were waiting 40 minutes to get a drink, and we thought “we can do this so much better–that’s our business.”
The concept club contest will allow the winning designer to work with coaches from Heineken’s own range of design consultants from the worlds of interiors, fashion, motion graphics, as well industrial design. Milan-based Fabio Rotella will act as architecture coach, while L.A.’s Luc Schurgers of Minivegas, a multi-platform production studio, will weigh in on production values. The tag line “Light Up the Night” dictates that designers should not hold back when it comes to lighting. Everything from effects on the beer bottle (the iconic shape can’t be touched) to the LED clothing worn by wait staff can be included as part of the design. Amsterdam-based LEW will advise on fashion.
Contenders will be selected from a series of contests held in clubs in New York, Sao Paulo or Tokyo and will be modeled after PechaKucha, the Japanese organization that pioneered 20×20 networking event where young designers connect over drinks. Participants have about five minutes to present 20 slides (20 seconds per slide). The first event will be held in New York on August 18 and is open to New York City residents only. While the selection process sounds a lot like beer-soaked crowdsourcing, the selection process will not be. “This is not democratic voting,” said van Iterson. The winners will have to pass muster with van Iterson and his team of design experts.