EI is given the tour and some back-ground info on the Genesis VIP Lounge concept by company co-founder Wim de Vos.
Q. Tell us about how this project came about, what was the aim behind creating the showrooms?
A. At a super-crowded JFK airport, travelling back from CES Las Vegas in 2017, I was wondering what we could do at ISE Amsterdam. The challenges at CES and ISE are the same: an overcrowded confusing technology show that has become too big. Exhibitors focus on products; visitors are looking for networking opportunities while they lose themselves in the show’s chaos. Just like any busy international airport.
I decided to find a calm spot to organise my thoughts and think about options. So, I decided to dive into the American Express Centurion Lounge. The lady asked me if I was a VIP member and that´s when it struck me.
We needed to create a space at ISE that made people feel like VIPs. A space to make people feel like our guests, not our customers. And a space that is far apart from the chaos of a busy technology trade show. Most importantly, it needed to be all about the experience we are able to create and how the space would make people feel.
So that year (and the following two years) we built a private, on-invitation-only space at ISE which became a huge success for us and our partners. Not product focused, but dedicated to show how technology can simplify and beautify a space and adapt to the atmosphere within it.
Q. What was the original plan? Did this develop or change over the course of the project/s?
A. The original plan was to create this special for VIP Lounge for ISE and continue with our – typical – technology focussed performance showrooms as a value-add distributor.
But soon after the first ISE VIP Lounge our installation partners started to ask us if we could create such a space permanently. And that is exactly what we did. As our business spans across Europe, we came up with a plan to build several VIP Lounges in key locations to support our partners (installers, architects, builders). Our focus was to show how technology can simplify and beautify the way we live, work, learn and play. We started with Marbella, then Lisbon, Milan, Paris and now Barcelona!
It was important to us that each of the Genesis VIP Lounges should be uniquely different. To achieve this, we approached each one in the way an architect would. We start with the space and its surroundings and from there we understand the feeling we are aiming for. So, at the end, each VIP Lounge is personalised. If you were to visit all five of our VIP Lounges, your experience will be different each time.
In the meantime, some visionary partners have joined us through an incentive we created to brand their own experience-driven showrooms as VIP Lounges. This idea really took off and to date we have 26 VIP Lounges around Europe and the list is growing.
Q. Take us on a journey through each part of the installations, what are some of the highlights from each space? What are some of the products/concepts featured?
A. In each VIP Lounge there are recurring themes but interpreted in different ways. By using different technology building blocks we are able to create a specific atmosphere or setting.
The Brain and Backbone of each space: built around Araknis/OvrC networking and AVoverIP distribution. Racks have a dedicated space and are an important part of the experience. This, in the end is what separates excellent installers and system designs from the ‘good enough’ approach we compete with every day.
Control and Comfort: Control4 throughout with full integration, access control, HVAC and KNX lighting by Ekinex.
Meeting space: functional home office / meeting space where plans, drawings and schematics are discussed with partners. Nexus21 lifts to fully hide TVs, completed with architectural speakers which is a mix of Origin Acoustics and Stealth Acoustics invisible speakers, both driven by AudioControl.
Lounge, TV-room or living room: One of the central areas of any home where we often see that audio is under-specified or sold. Every home has a lounge or living room which is a gathering place for people to consume content together or alone. So here we go for a big TV with high performance elegant audio solutions by our Danish audio partners Artcoustic or Steinway Lyngdorf.
Private Cinema: Each VIP Lounge has a high performance yet elegant private cinema. This is always the end-point of any visit or demonstration. As a business we focus on systems and solutions not products. Eight years ago we developed our own system approach for high performance cinema systems called ICE-Cinema (Immersive Cinema Experience). These are tried and tested full systems to create top-class private cinema experiences. Technology components for audio are from Steinway Lyngdorf, Artcoustic, Origin Acoustic and AudioControl while video systems are supplied by Barco. The systems we have vetted (built and tested) are documented on a special page made to make life easier for our partners.
Design elements, decoration and lighting is hand-picked by our own in-house architect Amanda. She helps us focus on the space and feeling first and selects the technology building blocks second. This is a very important aspect of the Ice Cinema process and end-result.
Q. What technical challenges did the projects present in terms of installation and performance?
A. I guess the list goes on and on, but so far we have always found a solution. We have amazing help from our installation partners with proven yet creative solutions to problems we have encountered. Anything from cabling and signal distribution in an old listed building over to acoustical treatment and even creating invisible doors or storage to create the WOW we are looking for.
The technical challenges are small compared to the financial challenges to get it all built. Our industry tends to exaggerate technical challenges and underestimate business challenges.
Q. Any favourite parts?
A. Nope. We do not see it as parts. Every VIP Lounge has its own character and personality. Details like an Ekinex keypad working flawlessly with a Control4 touch screen to select lighting and music scenes is just as satisfying as an ICE cinema with a line source system and a fully hidden projector.
Q. What are the main business benefits you expect to gain from the showrooms?
A. That is a great question because this is exactly the driver for our growing network of VIP Lounges. So many people in our industry dream up and even build expensive ‘showrooms’ without a business logic or plan behind it. We have iterated so many times and incorporated so many ideas from our partners and past experiences as integrators ourselves we are getting close to a blueprint that makes perfect business sense. Even if the initial investment is quite high.
So the main business benefits are:
- It grows our business with our existing installation partners: They bring their clients and together we offer them an experience of what technology can do to improve the way they live, work, learn and play.
- We call it ‘experience your home of tomorrow’. Almost always clients or architects decide to buy or specify higher performance systems after a visit to our VIP Lounges. This is not pure selling, this is truly people buying through emotion, desire and feeling.
- It grows the market overall: In continental Europe technology in homes is still in its infancy and the main role we see for ourselves is to educate and create the market. Our call to action is ‘Let’s make WOW the standard… Together.
- It has clear network effects that helps us reach new partners: when we only had the first VIP Lounge in Marbella people looked at it like an interested test-case or concept showroom. Now we have five of these running and with an ever-increasing number of installation partners joining, we are reaching a whole new audience of newcomers to our industry. Installers that are relatively new to our industry but are already involved with home construction and engineering, architects or builders looking to include technology as a core element of the product they offer.
Q. How do people go about experiencing them?
A. The VIP Lounges are on appointment only. Simply reach out to anyone at Genesis and we will set you up.