If you missed it last September in Paris, yesterday's NYC press event for the Philips' NextSimplicity show didn't disappoint. (Installed within Pier 94, the GetSmart-opening credits-like display began with white carpet outside the door, and that should've clued me in to what to expect.) Past the two "attractive host-models" flanking the entrance, you traveled down a white sheathed/icy-blue-lit chute, stopping at the registration area, and then into a lounge decked out with wrapped tuna spears and everything else that goes with wrapped tuna spears. When the show started, a curtain lifted to reveal the auditorium, arrayed with dozens of loveseats, a stage, and a huge rear-screen projection. After some charming, candid opening remarks by Andrea Ragnetti, the rearscreen lifted to reveal--finally--the 5 "islands" of concept products, neatly divided into Trust (medical), Care (home), Glow (lighting), Play (home entertainment), and Share (photos, messages).
Many of the concepts were compelling: The Ambient Experience CAT Scan media room has gotten a lot of media attention of course, but its companion toy scanner with stuffed animals for kids to play with in the waiting room, pre-scan, was a nice touch; the Chameleon Lamp--which matches its color to whatever material you put in front of its lens--was a cool trick. But a couple concepts were kinda sad (the Herbarium herb-growing gizmo would horrify any right-minded gardener...or any right-minded person, for that matter).
Each of the timed "island visits" was hosted by 2 or 3 "attractive spokes-models," each with names like Una and Guy, each clothed in white, and each posessing "foreign accents" and the most incredible diction that I've ever heard in my life. Now, this is New York, and one can't throw a Metrocard without hitting an out-of-work actor, but these people were so practiced and so polished that the audience spent half their time marveling at the product concepts, and the other half calculating the cost of bringing all these people over from Eindhoven. (If the former, one wonders whether these presenters will all have American accents for the show's next stop, London, in the fall.)
After the demos, there was a Q&A with Philips's Simplicity Advisory Board (sadly, John Maeda couldn't make it), then back to registration for the hardcover book swag and out the door. It was a very inspiring show, and if you're in NYC tonight, there's another chance to check it out...this time with cocktails. Imagine what those'll look like! (rsvp to lisaann.dupont-at-philips.com)