In December 2015, WIRED Magazine broke with its annual tradition of a brick-and-mortar holiday pop-up store, opting to engage Sub Rosa to harness cutting edge facial recognition technology to create a first-of-its-kind retail experience. For 8 days in New York’s SoHo, holiday shoppers were invited to a sidewalk storefront, designed to be responsive to both movement and touch. The result was an experience both innovative and inspiring.


Client Conversation


Renowned for its holiday retail pop-up experiences for more than a decade, WIRED sought new ways to inspire shoppers and to provide unique opportunities for its retail partners. WIRED approached Sub Rosa to design an all-new experience, one which would maximize both visibility and interactivity for participating brands and consumers.


In 2004, WIRED introduced its first pop-up holiday experience: a 2,500-square-foot temporary storefront that included 75 products and attracted 5,000 visitors. Making this an annual tradition, the brand continued to garner increasing acclaim and by 2011, the experience had grown to a 20,000 square-foot storefront, which saw a staggering 60,000 visitors.

The focus for the 2014 holiday season was to create more intimate, curated experiences that drove sponsor participation and interaction with products, as well as increased awareness and media exposure. This approach was also the case in 2015, when WIRED sought to find a completely new way to attract visitors to a storefront and offer multiple opportunities for engagement. Beyond the brick-and-mortar setup, one of the brand’s main objectives was to expand the e-commerce platform’s digital footprint, both in terms of interaction and scale.

Our Work

Sub Rosa developed an interactive window shopping experience inspired by the automat (fast food restaurants in which customers were served by vending machines) but with a digital twist. The result was an eye-catching product showcase on the busy streets of SoHo, responsive to passersby via OpenCV (facial recognition) technology, powering dynamic street-side interaction through LED’s and Arduinos.

Both physical and digital product displays were housed in a custom built structure in which reflective metallic surfaces merged with iridescent, shape shifting graphics. Using a centralized navigation touchscreen kiosk, consumers were able to browse products from the WIRED e-commerce store, select items and share their wish list via text message with friends and family.


The 2015 WIRED Store attracted more than 5000 visitor interactions, with more than 300,000 window impressions during the 8-day activation. The storefront also caught the eye of journalists, with a dedicated broadcast news piece on NY1.