MeowWolf, a collective of artists that create immersive and psychedelic art spaces, quickly captivated audiences with its first location in Santa Fe, New Mexico before expanding to Colorado and Las Vegas over the course of just a few years. As Meowwolf began expanding to their fourth location across the US, they were looking for a way to extend the MeowWolf experience beyond the locations themselves and enlisted the help of sustainable manufacturer Macher and our team. Specifically they requested a digital product with a physical component in order to create a truly immersive experience for their customers.
Devin Anderson - Product Designer - As the product design lead I managed the overall design process for our team and came up with our concept, created the product prototypes, and led the design team in our UI and graphic design.
Bin Gao - Product Designer
Mathias Moslehi- Project Coordinator
Christian Suarez - Project Manager
Juan Zitara - Industrial Designer
Problem: MeowWolf is a fast growing immersive art exhibition that needed a new product that could extend the experience of customers beyond the visit to the space itself and serve as an introduction to the organization who might not otherwise have heard about them. Attendees of the space typically go once and may not ever have another experience with the brand ever again.
Insight: We discovered that the top seller already in their stores were the various apparel items they carry. In addition, despite the practice Macher utilized of recycling plastic water bottles into pellets that can be extruded into threads for polyester material products, there was still concern of the micro-plastics associated with such products. As such, our team decided it would be best to instead go with sustainably sourced organic materials such as cotton or wool.
Solution: Our solution was Glow in the Drip, a sustainably sourced apparel line that featured glow in the dark artwork of artists from MeowWolf. The extra twist to the product was the digital component, an online scavenger hunt game, similar to PokemonGo, that challenged users to find other MeowWolf attendees outside of the venue also wearing Glow in the Drip apparel. The clothing included QR codes hidden within the artwork, linked to the online account of the purchaser, that when scanned would add points to the online account of both the wearer and the scanner. The solution extended the experience beyond the bounds of the physical venues and acted as a way to generate organic interest in MeowWolf.
Our team began by conducting a netnography of MeowWolf to determine what the most promising avenue for product development was. Once we had a better understanding of the MeowWolf exhibits and what their customers appreciated most about the experience we created a series of frameworks to hone in on how we could best address MeowWolf’s goals with the product including: POEMS framework; From-To exploration; offering-activity-cultural map; flow chart; and user journey map. Synthesizing our research with these tools allowed us to decide on our concept and begin iterating designs for the product. This started with sketches of both the apparel art as well as the UI before moving on to low, mid and high fidelity mockups.
The final design was prototyped using: glow in the dark, heat transfer vinyl that was applied to shirts and hats using an iron for the ‘physical’ portion; a mobile app prototype built using Figma that featured an onboarding process, user wardrobe, and scanning screens. We used these deliverables to demonstrate to our stakeholders how we could generate a new MeowWolf experience using existing technologies and sustainable materials that stayed within the realm of possibility of their financial and technical capabilities.
Overall the design was a success and the MeowWolf stakeholders thought it was a unique opportunity to expand their product line and something that could be executed even without the digital component. If our team had the chance to do it again, we would like to take the time to create more designs that integrated the QR codes more into the art featured on the apparel themselves.