This past December, New York-based luxury design house Coach debuted its Disney Mickey Mouse x Keith Haring Exploratorium, a digital pop-up experience dedicated to the brand’s latest collaboration between Disney and the late American artist.
The magical (and shoppable) world unfolds in a museum-like setting – visitors digitally meander through five distinct rooms filled with handbags and other pieces from the new collection, interactive elements, animated surprises and more, then complete their journey in the gift shop. The space is entirely driven by augmented reality (AR). “This pop-up is three brands coming together to bring joy,” says Giovanni Zaccariello, Coach’s VP of Global Visual Experience, who nods to the pandemic as the reason behind the pivot from creating a physical pop-up shop to going digital. “This is a catalyst for change,” he says. “All of these learnings are going to translate into many other projects.”
The Exploratorium notably feels like a real space, and according to David Lehman, Digital Director at Coach, the team considered elements such as the floor, the ceiling and the way people move within as they would with a brick-and-mortar store. “You can jump into the product. It’s very intimate,” he says. “We spent a massive amount of time trying to develop a way where people could be in the space and actually be close to the product.”
One of the rooms, designed to look like a New York subway station, is an immersive experience devoid of product that allows visitors to customize every single surface with one of 10 playful patterns in the style of Haring. Another, resplendent in bright yellow, features handbags with Haring’s Mickey illustrations resting atop pedestals. Here, an animated Mickey Mouse – also adorned in Haring’s work – waves at guests as they shop. “One thing that’s hard is not having people in the space,” Zaccariello says, “so an animated Mickey provides that movement and energy.”
The experience ends at the gift shop, where the team merged physical gifts (Coach products) with digital offerings (a custom Instagram filter featuring wearable Mickey ears or a special Spotify playlist). Sounds of people mingling were added to help activate all of the senses. “It’s a one-of-a-kind experience, Zaccariello says. “There is something for everybody.” The Disney Mickey Mouse x Keith Haring Exploratorium runs through early February 2021. Explore it here.