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Brookfield Properties Transforms Malls into Magical Forests

Two Things modernises the holiday shopping experience with 'The Wishing Forest'

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..  

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Michelle Snyder: SVP, Chief Marketing Officer

Rocell Viniard: Director, Portfolio Marketing



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



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

Sound Design

Sound: Plan8


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