When brands seek to create fantastical experiences—ones that leave indelible marks on attendees—they call on experiential producer Andrew Katz. Katz, who’s built whole worlds around the curious (check out the urban B-Boy elf in Barneys New Yorks’ Baz Dazzled window display) and the unconventional (any of the acts at NYC’s vaudevillian nightspot The Box), is teaming up with R+Co to produce Electric House, a live theatrical exploration of hair’s place in the not-so-far-away future. Here, we talked about why it’s best to be unplugged and engaged when learning, what lies ahead for hair trends and a small preview of what’s in store for hairstylists ready to enter R+Co’s Electric House.
What makes an event “experiential”?
Rather than doing a traditional cocktail event or an educational presentation, it’s a devised experience with audience engagement.
Are experiential events crucial now that people’s attention is drawn in so many different directions?
Totally. Having a live experience that you’re personally partaking in—especially immersive experiences—it’s something you hold onto. With the help of live theatrics, we’re encouraging guests to put down their phones for a moment and engage with R+Co on a deeper, more human level.
What are the challenges of inviting people to interact with an immersive setting?
You’re always going to have different levels of interactivity and engagement for guests; some people will be more willing to lose themselves in the process than others.
Some of the projects you work on, like The Box, have a connection to the subversive—captured as though from a bygone era. What about the past and these types of cultural phenomenon appeal to you?
Culture, fashion and hair go in cycles. Even though Electric House is set in the future, all of the references are coming from different past eras. For instance, we referenced old sci-fi from “The Twilight Zone” and the 1927 movie Metropolis to inform what the future might look like in 2080. With all of my projects there’s a nod to past cultural phenomena because they’re in the zeitgeist of the human experience.
Because Electric House is future-forward, was designing a production based on what’s not yet known challenging?
What’s nice about looking into the future is that it gives you creative license to do whatever you like. R+Co Co-Founders + Collective members gave me specific references from the past, whether Victorian punk or going all the way back to inventors Benjamin Franklin and Nikola Tesla (two experiences in Electric House), and we’re keeping all of these references in mind while we paint what we feel the future might be.
What was casting like for Electric House?
Each of the Co-Founders + Collective members has a specific inspiration for the type of casting they want to work with—and their visions have been really cool to run with. For Howard [McLaren’s] vision, for example, he’s interested in working with models that are nontraditional in every sense of the word.
How do you view hair will shift in the future?
Because of social media, currently you see a lot of regurgitated styles and people having a very similar look. But, we feel there’s going to be a paradigm shift of people wanting to go back toward individuality and taking artistic chances. That’s the future of the industry—not just doing the top trending look on Instagram but, rather, breaking that mold and expressing each individual’s style and personality.
Can you share any details about what attendees might see or engage with at Electric House?
They’re going to witness show-stopping performances that are literally electrifying and incorporating the most unique talent from around the world to bring each R+Co Co-Founder + Collective member’s vision to life. And guests will be asked to give their direct feedback in real time and have a hard think about what they see for the future of hair.
Do you think attendees will learn more—and retain it—through Electric House’s experiential production?
When you curate a unique experience like Electric House, it’s a given that it’s going to resonate on a deeper level, and the attendees are going to walk away—whether they agree with what’s being presented or they want to challenge it—remembering it.