Amsterdam – In 2015, a Microsoft Digital Trends report pointed to the rise of the phygital: close to 50 per cent of consumers were increasingly likely to participate in digital experiences if they were seamlessly integrated with the physical world. This year, Statista reported the augmented and virtual reality global market size to be worth close to 24 billion euro. But the projection for 2022? Nearly 184 billion.
Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam is ready for that future. Started in 2016 as the agency’s future-forward entity, the Department of New Realities finds innovative ways to bring clients and consumers together, creating artistically driven opportunities for everyone from Corona to Dutch band Necessary Explosion. Creative directors Anita Fontaine and Geoffrey Lillemon want to tap into the unimaginable: by working at the intersection between technology, visuals, culture, art, theatrics and the senses, they are able to dig into the unchartered crevices of the consumer mind and activate the otherwise unstimulated. That’s exactly why Moncler brought Fontaine and Lillemon on board to create a look book for their Genius collection.
In many ways, the work of the Department of New Realities feels like a revolt against an army of mothers who decried video games a waste of time. Using the Moncler Genius AR Lens app with the book published by Rizzoli stirs up some of the same phygital excitement as holding a controller – it promises entry into a new world, if only just for a moment. The branded 3D multiverse, which consists of 10 unique AR interpretations complete with soundscapes across eight different chapters, is dedicated to each designer who has designed for the Genius collection. A lacquered Simone Rocha outfit arises from the surface of what looks like a pool of jet black ink and that now Insta-iconic Pierpaolo Piccioli puffer – thanks, Ezra Miller.
What is that we’re looking for from augmented reality, if not always a brave new world, escapism from our own? This is an important denotation for the future of the retail sector, because we are seeing more and more projects that stray far from crass marketing, rather self-searching pointedly for the kind of consumer who wants to indulge in the fantasy of the brand world in a post-consumptive way.
Consumers are craving realness and errors and innocence and laughter
A sense of fun and humour permeates your work. Why is this honesty and authenticity important in this era of consumerism?
ANITA FONTAINE: There’s a certain coldness and constraint traditionally associated with technology that we like to rebel against. We come from a bit of a punk, maximalist background where building fantasies, with layers of surrealism and absurdity help make the technology more honest, less perfect and more human. Consumers aren’t that serious anymore, they’re craving realness and errors and innocence and laughter.
We’re really led by art and creative and poetry as opposed to just the technology. We're always trying to think about how to use technology to give people emotions and experiences they've never felt before, like artists that are exploring new tools and mediums of expression.