The Gensler designed Cadillac House opens this week.
Finding the cutting edge requires a brand to commit itself to a mindset of risk-taking and adventure each and every day, and that’s exactly what the Gensler-designed Cadillac House, which opens this week at 330 Hudson Street in SoHo, will help the legendary car dealership achieve. This 12,000 square foot, street-level space is not a dealership—you couldn't buy a car there even if you wanted to. It’s not a showroom or a retail destination or a company workspace. It is a testament to art, culture, fashion, film, as well as the members of New York’s creative community who make it all possible, and it embodies Cadillac’s willingness to push automotive innovation past established norms. The space physically extends Cadillac's recently issued challenge to "Dare Greatly," an ethos that draws inspiration from past individuals who defied convention and changed the world in the process.
Cadillac House differentiates itself from the myriad retail experience centers cropping up around the country with an ever-evolving point of view, never focusing on specific products or even the story of the Cadillac brand. It instead functions as a showroom of sorts for an entire lifestyle and the daring mindset underlying that lifestyle. You can get a cup of Joe’s Coffee at the café, look at design magazines in the lounge area, and then check out the rotating exhibition in a gallery curated by Visionaire. A Retail Lab operated in partnership with the Council of Fashion Designers of America will allow young fashion brands the chance to create a retail experience in the space using their own pop-up shops.
Image © Gensler
The primary design feature is the "runway," which serves as the central spine of the space. Move the cars out, and it becomes the perfect location for a fashion show, dinner party, or photo shoot. The numerous columns, which might have been considered a design challenge, instead operate as a prominent design feature—the integration of digital media adds an ambient experiential element, changing the mood from energetic to meditative. In partnership with AV&C, the Gensler team designed a custom content-management system, so that Cadillac staff can easily update the visuals with the latest brand assets and create an ever-changing kaleidoscope pattern composed of car silhouettes or snippets of the latest TV commercials.
Image © Gensler
Cadillac House exemplifies how brands can and should involve customers in a broader conversations about lifestyles and mindsets, and it demonstrates how brand appropriate spaces can be engines for creativity and connection. By merging physical with digital, hospitality with theater, and art with commerce, the space becomes a full-fledged experience and adds a new dimension to the Cadillac brand.
To learn more about Cadillac's strategy for appealing to a new market and reinventing their brand, read this BrandChannel article featuring an interview with Chief Marketing Officer Uwe Ellinghaus.
Beth Novitsky is a design director and principal in Gensler's New York office, and a leader of the firm's global Brand Design practice. She believes that a strong brand story can be a powerful asset, whether in the context of a retail store or a corporate environment. She works with companies around the world to develop programs involving brand strategy and identity, print communications, signage and environmental graphics and packaging. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.