Brookfield Properties Transforms Malls into Magical Forests
In time for the 2019 holiday season, commercial real estate leader, Brookfield Properties, has transformed two of its select mall locations into ethereal forest landscapes in partnership with Portland-based creative shop, Two Things.
The immersive experience, called 'The Wishing Forest', was born of a brief from Brookfield asking Two Things to not just design a new physical holiday experience, but to find new ways to innovate their consumer experience overall. It is currently live in the newly built SoNo Collection in Norwalk, CT, and Brookfield’s Natick Mall property in Natick, MA., and consists of five 'groves': The Wishing Tree, Holiday Bells Grove, Whispering Wishes Grove, Giving Grove and Memory Grove, all of which let visitors feel as if they’ve escaped into a magical woodland ripe with elements of surprise at all corners.
The effect modernises otherwise antiquated holiday shopping experiences, and looks to provide everyone from individuals to entire families with a connected and rewarding holiday experience.
Brookfield and Two Things plan to take the lessons from this initial dual-location launch and move to scale the experience across properties nationwide for future holiday seasons.
“The Wishing Forest is all about shifting the consumer holiday experience and demonstrating that brick-and-mortar shopping is alive and well,” said Michelle Snyder, chief marketing officer at Brookfield Properties. “We’ve found that the classic Santa experience in malls is too limited, focused only on small children and their parents. We wanted to make the experience more inclusive for entire families, capturing the magic of the entire season, not just Christmas.”
The Wishing Forest’s overall design is led with analogue facades and nostalgic nods to the past, while seamlessly weaving in high-end technology, sound design and lighting to elevate moments of discovery.
At the heart of the experience is The Wishing Tree, where visitors are invited to capture their wishes for family, community and friends inside a beautiful ornamental pine cone and then place their pine cone inside the tree, sending it into the air through a magnificent three-tiered LED chandelier, accompanied by a light display that brings the tree to life. At the end of the experience, visitors receive their keepsake ornament along with a series of downloadable photos capturing the moment of wonder inside.
Another main attraction is Holiday Bells Grove, featuring a centre bell rising 24 feet into the air, outfitted with 1.6 million LED filaments and surrounded by six smaller bells. As visitors walk around, their movement is motion-tracked, allowing them to unlock a responsive light and sound symphony. As more visitors join in, the symphony and lights show become more layered and magical.
The experience continues with a handful of smaller groves. In the Whispering Wishes Grove, visitors are prompted to tell their wishes to sound-capture trees, which bring the forest to life with mystical sounds. In the Giving Grove, visitors can donate to local charities through the act of play—three nostalgic coin-operated games: an enchanted music box, animatronic forest coin run and a gumball machine revealing a forest scene. Finally, Santa can still be found in Memory Grove. The beautiful set is comprised of whimsical trees and brightly coloured gift boxes, with both a traditional paid photo op, and a small grove of Instagram trees free to the public.
Two Things engaged Brooklyn-based interactive art installation experts, Red Paper Heart to bring the experience to life.
“We delved into true emotional territories of the holiday season to create a series of whimsical experiences that play on feelings of nostalgia, encourage connection, and explore the concept of peace and calm through play rather than escape,” said Lizzy Sonenfeld, creative director of Two Things. “From a design standpoint, it’s all about flow and setting the stage for people from different walks of life and different interests come together to participate, wander at their own pace, and lose their sense of time and space.”
The Wishing Forest will remain open throughout the holiday season..
Michelle Snyder: SVP, Chief Marketing Officer
Rocell Viniard: Director, Portfolio Marketing
Agency: TWO THINGS
Principle, Creative Director: Lizzy Sonenfeld
Principle: Paulo Ribeiro
Brand Strategy: Matt Kelly
Executive Experiential Producer: Neely Lisk
Account Manager: Sam Speed
Environmental & Brand Design
Architect, Unlisted Experiential / Concept: Sebastian Guivernau
Environmental Concepts: Graham Kelman
Environmental Design: Julina Grace
Color & Material Design: Katherine Entis
Brand Design: Lizzy Watkins
Concept Development: Kelly Wright & Jennie Hayes
INTERACTIVE DESIGN STUDIO AND PRODUCTION LEAD
INTERACTIVE DESIGN STUDIO AND PRODUCTION LEAD: RED PAPER HEART
Executive Producer: Lisa Walters
Chief Creative Officer: Zander Brimijoin
Technical Director: Daniel Scheibel
Producer: Erin Stowell
Designer: Danni Huang
Lead Developer: Greg Schomburg
Junior Developer: Shuvo Das
Developer: Andrew Cotter
Design Intern: Jiwon Ham
Design Intern: Nicole DiLeo
LED System Designer: David Crumley
Fabrication: Standard Transmission, Joe Nero Studio , New Motors , Machine Histories , KadaN
Mechanical Game Desig: Standard Transmission
Overhead Design: Ekko Mobiles (Matt & Ben)
Sound Design: Marcus Fischer
Interaction Design: Red Paper Heart
Category: Retail Stores , Retail and Restaurants