It takes a tremendous number of creative minds to come up with a concept like 7 Tide. In our 7 Tide Masterminds posts, we bring you an insider’s view from those responsible for the inspiring and innovative spaces inside the walls at 7 Tide Street in Boston Seaport.
Experience economy. Out-of-the-box thinking. Leverage unique technology. Change an industry. These were all part of the vision and impetus for A.W. Hastings & Co., longtime distributor of Marvin Window and Door products in New England and eastern New York, to open the country’s first Marvin Experience Center at 7 Tide in Boston Seaport.
The A.W. Hastings team had the vision, and they were looking for partners to help them bring it to life. The physical design of the space was collaboration between A.W. Hastings and Jeffrey Katz of C& J Katz Studio. The unprecedented technology piece was the brainchild of an innovative digital experience agency located less than three miles away from 7 Tide in the lower level of an unassuming office building on South Street in Boston. Inphantry.
We sat down with Inphantry Co-Founder and Creative Director Kevin Lee, Executive Producer Paul Saraiva and New Business Director Cam King. These three innovators described how the eight-person Inphantry team worked feverishly for months to bring the A.W. Hastings vision to life. Here’s our conversation…
You’ve worked with brands like Delta, Madison Square Garden, The History Channel, Puma and Vistaprint, so what did you think when a regional distributor of windows and doors asked you to help with a concept that was neither a retailer nor a manufacturer showroom?
We love a challenge and the idea of working in a new industry – building/windows and doors – was very exciting. Much of our work until that point had been about promotional campaigns. They are all innovative and fun and exciting to work on, but they have a launch and end point and then, for the most part, they go away. Marvin at 7 Tide is our second permanent installation. Coming on the heels of our work for Delta Airlines at Madison Square Garden, the Marvin at 7 Tide installation continued to solidify our passion for how a digital experience can be integrated into a permanent space and change how people think about the client’s products and process forever.
What did you see as your mission for Marvin at 7 Tide?
A.W. Hastings was very clear that they were doing something very different at 7 Tide. They have a very successful network of retail dealers across New England and eastern New York and those dealers would continue to be the point of sale, so they weren’t selling anything or taking orders at 7 Tide. The Hastings team didn’t want to, in any way, duplicate the experience customers would have at their dealers. They wanted to create a conversation before a home was built or renovated, at what they call “the dreaming stage.” They actually wanted to change the conversation that has been taking place for over a century about windows and doors being building supplies, and transform it into a discussion about lifestyle and how you want sunlight to enter your life and how your outdoor view makes you feel. When they shared the language they would be using with architects and homeowners, we started thinking about how technology could support their mission. Our mission was supporting their vision. We looked at Jeffrey Katz’s layout and started brainstorming about how technology could help move people through the space and create an experience unlike anywhere else in their industry.
What kind of technology did you leverage for Marvin at 7 Tide?
We don’t start with the technology. Technology is just a tool. We start with the experience the client wants to create and then imagine how we can make that experience happen in an elegant, user-friendly way. From the beginning, our goal was to identify how to create the best user experience and then utilize digital to enhance that experience. Marvin’s 7 Tide team has a great depth of knowledge. They have intelligence around guiding an architect or homeowner through the selection process, so our job was to enhance that presentation and help move people through the space.
Since you had never worked in the building industry, how did you go about researching this project?
Like with every project, the whole team steeped ourselves in their industry to learn all we could about their target consumer and the process that is currently in place. It just so happens that our Executive Producer Paul Saraiva is an architect by education. Call it synchronicity, but he had worked with Marvin products in a previous career, so he was the perfect person to help us create this customer experience. He had once been an A.W. Hastings customer. In fact, Paul ended up doing every window and door rendering in the product library that would eventually become the heart of the digital experience.
What are the experiences you created for the opening of Marvin at 7 Tide?
When Marvin at 7 Tide opened, we had created three digital experiences:
- In the 3-D Home Gallery, we created real-time photo renderings of the 3-D model homes so that they could be projected on a screen adjacent to the gallery. Here the visitor encounters the models and then can see various views of those homes in photos above, highlighting the extraordinary windows and doors that create the look and experience of the home.
- Inside the Marvin Living Room, we created a Product to Scale Projector. This allows the Marvin brand representative to bring the discussion to life about how you want your windows and doors to look and feel in your home. How does a bank of four windows in one style look? You see it appear on the wall exactly as it would be in your home. Too tall? She can change it instantly.
- Then the visitors move to a Smart Touch Table, where they can actually build their own windows and doors. We created an interface that allows them to easily change the interior color, the exterior cladding, the style and more and it renders instantly on the table surface. At the end, all of this information about what they’ve selected is saved and can be emailed to them.
We understand Marvin at 7 Tide has just launched Phase II, so what does that look like?
When we were designing the initial experience, we could already see that there was so much more that could be done to enhance the 7 Tide visit. So, we actually started designing the back-end technology with an eye for what could come next, in case Marvin wanted to go further. After being open for several months, the feedback was so positive, they opened a discussion about what else we envisioned. So Phase II provides an even more end-to-end solution.
It starts with an online appointment module on their website, where the visitor’s name, email and phone number are gathered, along with details about when they’d like to visit. This allows us to personalize everything from that moment forward. When they arrive, they get a Marvin project notebook in which we’ve embedded RFID technology. This allows the visitor to simply touch the notebook to any screen and save the information that is of interest. No more taking notes or trying to take pictures of what you want to remember. Everything is stored from the 3-D model home photos you interact with to the scale renderings on the wall of the living room to the exact specifications (and renderings) of the windows and doors you create on the Touch Table. The system sends an email from the Marvin brand representative 30 minutes after the visitor leaves 7 Tide and they have all of the information they need at their fingertips.
What do you think the result of your work with Marvin at 7 Tide will be?
The early feedback has been extremely exciting. We love helping clients be positive disrupters in their industries. Success is when the user experience is seamless and, above all, helpful to the consumer process. The immersive nature is intriguing to people and, as more and more people experience it, it is driving traffic to 7 Tide to learn about why Marvin is a superior choice. It’s not enough to just be entertaining, the experience needs to be valuable and that is what we were striving for with Marvin at 7 Tide.