External Reference - WOW Concept, a theatre of retail
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WOW Concept, a theatre of retail

External Reference

Retail  /  Completed
External Reference

WOW is an articulated project, with a digital marketplace that complements the online shopping experience through interactive systems. Each floor is unique and dynamic making WOW a theatre of retail, an iridescent scenography that changes on every floor, that transforms to wow the customer. This innovative space blends reality with fiction, the physical becomes digital, and shopping becomes an immersive experience. The six floors dedicated to retail, are designed as a stage for a constant contemporary show, where a product is discovered through various sensory experiences that alter from floor to floor and change over time. In WOW each space is unique, exceptional, and provocative, and they host activities that create an unforgettable experience for the user. Different shopping scenarios imply that there will also be a continuous replacement of products, brands, and digital natives which are not sold in other physical stores and will have their exclusive spaces in WOW. In the WOW tour, the user starts on the ground floor dedicated to cosmetics. On this floor, External Reference has imagined that classical sculptures across time and space colonize the building of the former Neo-Classic Hotel Roma. These pink painted statues have undergone spatiotemporal deformations which manifest themselves in glitches and are used as displays for product demonstrations. The lower floor houses the technology products in a space inspired by the evolution of human nature towards the artificial and digital. A landscape of marine corals 3D printed with PureTech material (a natural mineral compound that neutralizes greenhouse gases by capturing and converting CO2 into inert minerals) is the setting where digital and physical dimensions are integrated to generate an unprecedented shopping experience. The first to the third floor is dedicated to fashion represented by digital-native brands, established companies, and streetwear firms respectively. All of them are aesthetically and conceptually independent. The first floor will be changing its skin entirely as if it were a dress, completely renewing its aesthetics each season. Whereas, the second floor, with its imaginary inspired by a fashion show, will be changing scenarios for events. And the third floor, inspired by sports and street aesthetics, immerses the user in a more technical and urban space. The fourth floor of the mall is dedicated to home and host avatars under an aesthetic inspired by the Metaverse, theatricalizing a game situation where outer and inner space are mixed, and reality becomes a pixelated fantasy. The whole WOW project is inside a protected building, the former Hotel Roma, the first one built on Gran Vía dating back to 1915. The design of the interior space, therefore, generates a dialogue between an extremely contemporary layer and its historical context.


 WOW Concept
 3000 mq
 Carmelo Zappulla
 Stefano Fontolan, Ilaria Rampazzo, Sebastián Amorelli, Vianella Maestra, Amin Bigdeli, Forum Shah, Ivan Marchuk, Francesco Sacconi, Gianmarco Daniele, Iacopo Neri
 OnionLab, Edgar Domínguez


External Reference is a multidisciplinary design firm that brakes the boundaries between architecture, visual arts, and digital tools to deliver a unique special experience.

Founded in 2007 in Barcelona, the studio has achieved world recognition and developed its own unique style and design methodology in commercial and cultural interior design and architecture. We have completed projects and received numerous design awards in the most influential cities worldwide: Barcelona, Dubai, London, Bangkok, Doha, and Moscow. For us 2022 is the year of the most ambitious projects like the Spanish Pavilion at EXPO2020 and the WOW concept in Madrid. Inspiring us to further expand our vision and expertise across the globe.

External Reference offers one-of-a-kind spacial design concepts through immersive digital and physical media, which are able to highlight brand values and create lasting memories and emotional bonds.


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