Many people like to do their shopping online, but there's something to be said for going to a brick-and-mortar location and actually seeing something before you buy it. With that in mind, Samsung is joining companies like Apple, Microsoft and Nintendo in opening a physical shop to experience its product. But there's one key difference: Samsung won't actually be selling any devices at its new flagship location. Instead, you'll find art exhibits, cooking classes and musical performances in what the company is billing as a cultural center aimed at owners (and prospective owners) of Samsung devices.
Samsung 837 takes its name from its street address, located at the corner of Washington and East 13th streets in the middle of New York's Meatpacking District. That neighborhood, just off the High Line park, is a place where you'll find plenty of trendy restaurants, nightclubs and high-end boutiques. The store seeks to exist at the intersection of all of these points of interest, via daily events.
Conceived with input from interior design firm Wonderwall, 837 is equipped to handle a wide range of activities. Across three floors you'll find a 75-seat amphitheater, a full working kitchen and plenty of bench space for tech support and workshops. The amphitheater hosts a three-story interactive screen that was used for an art installation this week, but will be repurposed for screenings and presentations as well. Next week 837 plans to host an Oscar-viewing party for Galaxy device owners.
Even when you're not there to attend an event, 837 has plenty to offer drop-in visitors. The ground level art gallery showcases works that use technology in a major way. The current exhibition, "Social Galaxy" by Black Egg, contains a mirrored tunnel lined with Samsung devices. Users input their Instagram handle at the entrance and then, within seconds, the displays pull in images and comments from their accounts, creating a rapid cacophony of sound and color.
As you'd expect, some of the activities are meant to promote Samsung devices. There's a photo booth where you can take pictures on a Galaxy S7 and compare it to competing devices like the iPhone. A living room area showcases Samsung televisions and speakers, right next to the kitchen and its Samsung smart refrigerator. There are plenty of Samsung phones and tablets on display too. A set of chairs in the front of the store offer up a "4D" virtual reality experience, by having you strap a Gear VR to your face as you sit in a chair that bobs in time whatever you're looking at (in this case, a roller coaster). Even the ridiculously large Galaxy View tablet occupies a place on many of the coffee tables scattered throughout the space.
None of these products are actually for sale. Manager Zach Overton says e-commerce is just how people buy things today; 837 is there to build experiences rather than push product. The only thing you can buy are food and drinks in the café, provided by Stand Coffee and a rotating cast of vendors curated by hipster food market Smorgasburg.
Samsung 837 sourced a lot of its style locally as well. The employee uniforms came from designer line Rag & Bone, which has a location right across the street. The store also has a partnership with the nearby Standard hotel. Samsung 837 considers itself part of the Meatpacking District community, as well as a destination for both tourists and locals -- it opens to the public today at 11 a.m., which is when we'll find out if Samsung's attempt at creating a cultural destination works out, or if it's just another tragically hip building people pass on the way to the High Line.
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