A Podcast Network by SANDOW

Colleen Newell, Founder, THE INBTWN STUDIOS

On this special ‘holiday’ episode of Barriers to Entry, we welcome former EVP at ABC Carpet and Home and Founder of THE INBTWN STUDIOS Colleen Newell! The whole gang was actually in-person for the first time as Colleen shared her fascinating project that brings together physical spaces with virtual, mixed reality and beyond. Grab an eggnog and join this conversation that spans from an inspirational design story dating back to childhood, through to the process of finding investors and advisors for a new startup.

Connect with Colleen Newell on LinkedIn!

Moments to check out;

  • Colleen introduces ‘THE INBTWN STUDIOS’ and talks about their journey to create immersive, natively digital experiences. (12:51)
  • How do you choose the right partners and investors for your company? (20:16)
  • What are some design challenges when creating for physical and digital spaces? (23:48)

Connect with our hosts on LinkedIn;

Bobby Bonett

Tessa Bain

Andrew Lane

Discover more shows from SURROUND at surroundpodcasts.com. This episode of Barriers to Entry was produced and edited by SANDOW Design Group. Special thanks to the podcast production team: Hannah Viti, Wize Grazette, Kasey Campbell and Samantha Sager.

00:00:03:11 – 00:00:19:25

Colleen Newell

It shouldn’t be the experience, because I think if you’re relying on the tech to be the experience, it’s going to feel very trend focused. You have to have a strong anchor in ‘Why are you creating the space?, What do you want people to feel? And what are the best tools to help the books at?”

 

00:00:21:00 – 00:00:50:10

Tessa Bain

Welcome back to another episode of Barriers to Entry, a podcast where every episode we get into it with the leaders, the designers, the early adopters, and the influencers who are helping to shape what web3, the metaverse, the blockchain and more are going to mean for the architecture and design industry. I’m Tessa Bain and I’m joined by my very esteemed, very lovely, intelligent even wow co-host Andrew Lane and Bobby Bonett blushing.

 

00:00:50:23 – 00:00:53:12

Andrew Lane

Were any of those meant for either of us in particular or.

 

00:00:53:22 – 00:00:56:23

Tessa Bain

I mean, it’s both, but like, you’re not just pretty faces that.

 

00:00:57:01 – 00:01:00:17

Andrew Lane

Wow. Yeah, that’s what we’re here for. The complements. That’s amazing.

 

00:01:00:17 – 00:01:16:08

Bobby Bonett

Plug’s guy here. Bobby. Bonnie, We’re here at the podcast studio at Penn one in New York City. Thanks to Vornado for affording us the opportunity to record in here and where we’re going to be talking about an exciting interview with a Dreamer today that we just got out.

 

00:01:16:09 – 00:01:41:04

Andrew Lane

And it’s a little bit it’s a little bit festive, really. Yeah, we have a really I think there’s a little bit of magic in the podcast air today as we welcome a guest who has spent a long career in the physical world, a very classically trained designer with a lot of heritage in that world who really followed a dream that started with a Christmas story.

 

00:01:41:12 – 00:01:55:11

Bobby Bonett

Yeah. So Colleen Newell, who’s founder of the INBTWNstudios, you’ll hear her share about how her passion for this project started when she was a child. And I’m sure that’s a story that so many of our listeners can share in their journeys in the architecture and design industry.

 

00:01:55:16 – 00:02:10:27

Tessa Bain

And she takes the design thinking process and sort of turns it on its head and goes from what is maybe traditional and linear into something that is an ecosystem of creativity. So I’m really excited for our listeners to get a chance to learn more about what that means.

 

00:02:11:05 – 00:02:33:09

Andrew Lane

Yeah, Colleen’s got a really interesting experiential and experimental project that we’re going to hear all about. The way that she thought about bringing together advisors, the way she pulled the team together, and really what it is that they’re ultimately trying to create, which is a project that has a real interesting iteration to it moving and evolving as the times change and as the technology emerges too.

 

00:02:33:09 – 00:02:41:27

Andrew Lane

And I think that’s one of the most exciting things about this, is I’m not even sure that Colleen knows exactly where this is going to land, but the vision is big, that’s for certain.

 

00:02:42:05 – 00:02:57:14

Tessa Bain

Well, and that’s what’s really cool about it, is that she said she’s had this dream and this vision for so many years, and it’s the technology now and the metaverse applications and how we can use AR and VR A.I. that are actually allowing this vision and this dream that she’s had for so long to come to life.

 

00:02:57:29 – 00:03:12:19

Bobby Bonett

And this is why show notes are important, because we’re going to talk about some technologies and some concepts today with Colleen. While we won’t define them over the course of the podcast episode and make sure to check out the show notes on SURROUNDpodcasts.com to learn more about all of these concepts.

 

00:03:12:21 – 00:03:36:10

Andrew Lane

Yeah, the plug man, I think that is a great intro. Maybe we can bring those sleigh bells back as we go into a really exciting exploration of what your imagination can make possible with all this new technology. Let’s get to the interview with Colleen. All right. We are excited because the gang is actually all in person today, which is a rare feat here at the Sandow Design Group Podcast Studios.

 

00:03:36:10 – 00:03:54:00

Andrew Lane

Thanks for having us in, Bobby. It’s very exciting to be here. This is an audio only podcast which you can’t see the free water and snacks that are just piling on top of us here. It’s an amazing place to be. We’re located at Penn1 in New York City, and we want to give a shout out we usually plug at the end but shouted at the beginning of the pod to our partners at Vornado who have created this great space.

 

00:03:54:00 – 00:04:10:13

Andrew Lane

And we’re excited because we actually have a guest here in person as well. And joining us at the table today, someone who was part dreamer, part founder, embarking on a fascinating project, really bridging the worlds of physical and into digital design and creating something very cool in the metaverse. Colleen Newell, welcome to the pod.

 

00:04:10:16 – 00:04:17:00

Colleen Newell

Thank you. It’s so incredible to be here. I’ve been dreaming about our chat for weeks now. I’m really excited.

 

00:04:17:27 – 00:04:36:16

Andrew Lane

Amazing. We wanted to get started just giving everyone more of a sense of kind of who you are, how you got here, what you got you into. Web3. You had a story that you shared when we were kind of prerecord about a winter visit to Higbees that led you on the path. And I think that, you know, most of our stories begin in Cleveland, but we really we really want to hear how this one plays out.

 

00:04:37:15 – 00:05:01:03

Colleen Newell

Hilarious. Yeah, this is it is quite specific. It’s one of those core memories, if you will. When I was a kid, my mom would take us down to downtown Cleveland, which had its, you know, fantastic department store in its one skyscraper. So Higbees this turns into Twigbee’s at holiday time. And it’s a magical place to go where they built a two story castle that was covered in iridescent glitter.

 

00:05:01:13 – 00:05:17:21

Colleen Newell

And it was the proportions of that of a kid. So it was made special just for you, and you’d get a little piece of paper that had parents, grandparents, siblings, etc. on it, and you would have to tick off who you were shopping for and you’d get to go in and choose these items yourself. And they were, you know, silly trinkets.

 

00:05:17:21 – 00:05:43:07

Colleen Newell

But it was just this idea of being a little kid and walking into a space that was created just for you. And all of the things you were selecting were things that you selected, and it just felt transformative. And then you take the elevator upstairs to the top floor where the Silver Grill restaurant was, and it was a beautiful white tablecloth, kind of fancy establishment that had, you know, a lovely lunch.

 

00:05:43:07 – 00:06:00:25

Colleen Newell

But really the point of it was that you didn’t want to finish your lunch as a kid because if you didn’t, they would bring it to you in the most beautiful presentation. So either, you know, a silver foil swan, which was beautiful and lovely, but really you were hoping and holding out for the cardboard oven that had actual doors that open.

 

00:06:01:06 – 00:06:22:01

Colleen Newell

So you’d open the doors and your food would be in there waiting for you. And then when you got to go home, obviously it was endless hours of play. So it just felt, you know, it’s one of those experiences that unfortunately just aren’t around in the same way where every detail was paid attention to. And it was all about creating an experience for you, which sure inspires more commerce in most opportunities in most cases.

 

00:06:22:10 – 00:06:27:16

Colleen Newell

But it really was a magical experience and it stayed with me my whole life.

 

00:06:27:18 – 00:06:44:26

Bobby Bonett

Yeah, I should mention elementary school still do these little craft fairs, holiday time, little shops. And so we give each of my daughters a couple of bucks to take. And my oldest daughter, Arlene, was asking for $10 to get herself something this year which killed me. But she was very thoughtful about everybody else she was getting as well.

 

00:06:44:26 – 00:06:51:19

Bobby Bonett

So you’re really since then, it’s been about experiences for you. That’s what drives you and motivates you.

 

00:06:51:21 – 00:07:05:14

Colleen Newell

That about experiences and beauty. And I certainly didn’t have the vocabulary at the time, but design and really that every detail throughout that design process was paid attention to and it was seamless ever since then for aure.

 

00:07:06:20 – 00:07:17:07

Bobby Bonett

Tell us a little bit about your architecture and design creds and your journey. So we’ve started with Colleen as a kid in the Cleveland skyscrapers, and then you enter the workforce shortly thereafter, I guess, huh? And what happens.

 

00:07:17:07 – 00:07:19:11

Andrew Lane

To destined to build the Cleveland skyline? Yeah.

 

00:07:20:18 – 00:07:45:26

Colleen Newell

For Cleveland, it’s a beautiful city. It’s perfect for creatives, it’s really quite special. It’s just a small little slice of fantastic this. So I went to the Cleveland Institute of Art, which at the time was the only five year art school in the country and felt really compelling to spend two years of foundation and then three years in your major, which was such a luxury, I was a fiber and materials studies major and I really focused on fabric as architecture.

 

00:07:45:26 – 00:08:18:10

Colleen Newell

Then the intention really was to create evocative experiences where you influenced the environment and the environment influenced you, whereas typically it’s one directional. And then I also studied at Parsons and Interior Architecture and had an incredible educational experience and reached out to Donghia at the time high end furniture and textile company to the trade and interned there and met some of my closest friends that are still my friends today and felt incredibly privileged and lucky to work under Sheri Donghia.

 

00:08:18:10 – 00:08:40:15

Colleen Newell

Allison Crowell, who now has quite a wall collection, just a really spectacular group of people, and then met John Robshaw. So John ROBSHAW Textiles worked with him for a number of years and then terrain. I was part of the founding team there that built the concept and as well as launched the brand terrain under the urban umbrella, which was fantastic, to be able to launch a home brand that, you know, they’re fashion experts.

 

00:08:40:15 – 00:08:54:26

Colleen Newell

And so to do Home and Garden felt really quite special, consulted for a number of years. And then I spent the better part of nine years at ABC Carpet at home as Executive Vice President of Design and Merchandizing leading creative and the business side.

 

00:08:55:05 – 00:09:07:15

Andrew Lane

So what was it that led you from this great role at a major company like ABC Carpet to strike out on your own and in particular to go from such a tactile background into something that’s a lot more digital and nonphysical?

 

00:09:08:18 – 00:09:34:06

Colleen Newell

It’s such a great question. ABC carpet and Home for those that know it and certainly those that are New Yorkers for decades and decades has been a wonderland of discovery and was really, I would say, the founders of experiential retail. When you think of bricks and mortar retail and kind of walking through those doors and just getting lost in the beauty and in the storytelling and I had the privilege of having what I would imagine, or at least to me, it was one of the best jobs in the world.

 

00:09:34:06 – 00:10:14:11

Colleen Newell

For a number of years. I had these experiences traveling the world and seeing culture and seeing incredible design, incredible architecture going into the most beautiful synagogues and chapels and places of worship, for instance, because it’s such an important part of culture. It’s something ABC We would always go in whatever country we were in, and ABC was so rich for that physical experience and yet was, for lack of a better term, a bit of a dinosaur when it came to technology, right, Because it had been so long established and so known for its physical presence, the adoption of tech and evolution into tech was slow and painful, and it was frustrating to try to express to

 

00:10:14:11 – 00:10:38:19

Colleen Newell

people the magic of walking through those doors digitally based on the tools that we had, the budgets that we had, etcetera. And sharing that magic was difficult and that stays with you and certainly the ideas that most drive and inspire me lend themselves to the hybrid. And thinking of all the things that I’ve learned at ABC and how do I take what’s meaningful and move it forward.

 

00:10:39:00 – 00:10:52:06

Bobby Bonett

Are there moments you recall or maybe pre-metaverse or thinking what is a virtual manifestation of these magical in-person moments that I’m experiencing? If there was something we could do digitally or online, I’d love to sink my teeth into it.

 

00:10:52:10 – 00:11:21:25

Colleen Newell

Honestly, a number of years ago I just thought, Well, what’s the next wave of entrepreneurs? I feel really frustrated, past tense by the endless scroll and this search for product. And I think how eBay changed Web2 or how Etsy changed the game for makers, artisans. Designers think, what was the next evolution of that? How do you experience versus just view have a non-interactive experience with product?

 

00:11:22:07 – 00:11:30:05

Colleen Newell

And that got me thinking. I have a real passion and a real drive to bring innovation to the way that we experience physical-ness.

 

00:11:30:12 – 00:11:44:02

Andrew Lane

You saw this happening all around you. What does it feel like to have these progressive thoughts when you’re working in an environment where you just don’t see it moving forward? And for people out there who are in the sort of similar situations, how do you internalize and break through that?

 

00:11:45:03 – 00:12:20:12

Colleen Newell

It’s a great question. ABC was pretty specific, and I wouldn’t necessarily say that this is the advice that I would give to others, but the physical magic outweighed often the pain of some of the other that I just thought, sure, I could go somewhere else. But there’s no one bridging the gap with both in the ways that I wanted that it still felt like the physical magic carried a lot of weight that drove me to stay and to stay focused then on how do you make the most of what you have and how do you be the best storyteller and the best experience provider with what you have?

 

00:12:20:12 – 00:12:43:08

Colleen Newell

I think now it’s a game changer. The fact that Web3 is many things to many people, and I’m sure we can all talk and have a slightly different definition of what it is, but it really is empowering creatives and I think the ability to create as a low fi, an experience as you want, as well as an elaborate experience, but at the time is now.

 

00:12:44:04 – 00:12:46:26

Bobby Bonett

It is important still to have that physical component. Right?

 

00:12:47:05 – 00:13:00:15

Colleen Newell

For me it’s critical and that is the impetus and the inspiration for the work that I’m up to. And I think that’s the most interesting place when you’re seeing that transfer of physical to digital and vice versa.

 

00:13:01:05 – 00:13:02:27

Bobby Bonett

So can you tell us about what you’re up to? Sure.

 

00:13:03:21 – 00:13:28:21

Colleen Newell

I’m working to create a brand called the INBTWN, I, N, B, T, W, N, and it’s all about the space between reality and fantasy. So I say it’s a bit of Eloise for those that might have an awareness of that reference fifties ish book based on a little girl who grew up in the Plaza Hotel, but a bit of Eloise meets Willy Wonka meets Tim Burton, and we’re really on a journey to create an immersive natively digital experience.

 

00:13:28:21 – 00:13:33:03

Colleen Newell

That’s a hotel, restaurant, theater, e-commerce with a gamified foundation.

 

00:13:33:16 – 00:13:41:04

Tessa Bain

So when you’re designing a hybrid experience, where do you start? Do you typically start physical first or do you lead with digital first?

 

00:13:41:26 – 00:14:06:23

Colleen Newell

It’s interesting because I mentioned that we’re launching digitally first, but really the inception and the evolution of the design started with the physical. And for me it’s that flashback to that core memory of the magic of having something created just for you. I have a very clear vision of what we’re looking to create physically, and that when you think of a typical hotel experience, we can put them in a few buckets.

 

00:14:06:23 – 00:14:35:25

Colleen Newell

There’s the luxury spa, there’s your work, hotel, etc., etc. on and on. But to create an experience that’s luxury, that’s high end, every detail is considered, and yet there is a deeper meaning, there is a deeper experience happening. I can talk through what a room experience would be like. Each floor in the hotel experience will have a different theme, if you will, and you can either choose your theme or you can take a quiz and be assigned should you not want to choose.

 

00:14:36:05 – 00:15:00:07

Colleen Newell

So there’s a celestial floor, for instance, and you walk into that room and you’re immediately transported. As soon as you put your foot down the sub flooring is a commercial foam surface that has a bit of buoyancy. So there’s a bit of give as you’re walking over the floor. So it’s mimic that sensory experience of walking on the surface of the moon and then all of the windows are stained glass really delicate, beautiful, fine stained glass with light projecting through.

 

00:15:00:10 – 00:15:25:07

Colleen Newell

As you walk in, you’re immersed in refractions of light mimicking the cosmos, and you have almost a spiritual experience kind of in that room. And what is your engagement like? And there’s all sorts of conversation. We could go into the design, but then how that translates digitally, that same room that you feel like something’s happening digitally, you actually can float because we’re not limited by constraints of physics and gravity and whatnot, so that we are in a physical world.

 

00:15:25:18 – 00:15:33:13

Colleen Newell

So the physical 100% came first, but then the liberation came when thinking about how to translate it digitally.

 

00:15:34:22 – 00:15:55:26

Bobby Bonett

I really appreciate the choose your own adventure nature. Who do you think about is your target visitor? Because I’m interested in the fact that a lot of your inspiration comes from an experience you had when you were younger, and the way you’re explaining the celestial floor. I could imagine a toddler or an adult going in and saying, Oh my goodness, this is pretty far out.

 

00:15:55:26 – 00:15:59:18

Bobby Bonett

So are you designing for a certain persona? Where does that start in your head?

 

00:15:59:24 – 00:16:29:29

Colleen Newell

It’s interesting. It’s a really great question because I would say originally because the idea did come from the roots as a memory from childhood, I was thinking that it would be focused more on children, but I’ve been working on this for about a year. I’ve been dreaming of it forever, but really building an and building team and whatnot for the last year and in all of my meetings, investors, potential partners, advisors, etc. all the feedback has been one, can I go?

 

00:16:31:00 – 00:16:55:21

Colleen Newell

And it’s really shifted thinking we’re all yearning for it. We’re all yearning for those experiences that challenge. How is this possible? My intention is to create this sanctuary, if you will. So when you think of bringing like a three year old, which I have and adore more than anything in this whole world, he’ll have a great time, but I don’t think he’ll appreciate all the design details.

 

00:16:56:00 – 00:16:58:13

Colleen Newell

It’s really intended to speak to me.

 

00:16:58:15 – 00:17:06:20

Tessa Bain

It’s kind of like Disney when they they put those jokes in that are just for adults. But really the movie is for the children. So a little bit like that. Yeah.

 

00:17:07:05 – 00:17:24:04

Andrew Lane

So are you for seeing this as being in a physical permanent and location? Do you see this as being something that is potentially installation based and travels about following? To Bobby’s point about the audience, where do you kind of find the place that brings us to life for people so that people can access an experience like this?

 

00:17:24:28 – 00:17:48:05

Colleen Newell

Sure. Well, digitally it’ll be available everywhere. When I was really thinking of the physical build, that’s really where the idea had its roots. The two things that I struggled with were technology, because I want the physical experience. I want you to be very present and not distracted by the technology and then accessibility, because it will be a high-end luxury experience.

 

00:17:48:18 – 00:18:07:25

Colleen Newell

And I don’t want to necessarily limit the people that can take part in this realm as I’m referring to it. So digitally it’ll be globally and it will really encourage interaction so you can participate and we can get more into it, I believe, later. But you could participate on your own or you can really build team and collaborate with those globally.

 

00:18:08:06 – 00:18:30:10

Colleen Newell

We’re launching digitally first, the physical. We’re still a few years out and my dream location is in New York City. To build the full physical realm, there will be these pop up, immersive, timed experiences that can travel and be in many different destinations. But the full physical realm will start in New York. But I have visions of how this will be a global brand.

 

00:18:31:19 – 00:18:34:05

Bobby Bonett

Are you thinking about gamification as part of this as well?

 

00:18:34:08 – 00:18:56:11

Colleen Newell

100%. 100%. It’s part of the magic that web3 in the metaverse is allowing us to see, both in participant designing and building in and contributing their vision and layering in their experiences. But really the gamification, it starts off as a scavenger hunt and evolves into a quest game. I can’t share all details now, but little bits like.

 

00:18:56:11 – 00:18:58:29

Andrew Lane

With that be just like a game, like a cheat code. Is this?

 

00:18:58:29 – 00:19:25:08

Colleen Newell

No, because I don’t want to reveal it all. That’s what’s so exciting, right, is that it continues to evolve. But a lot of the two dimensional artwork, for instance, will be a curation of children’s artwork that digitally deconstructs or reconstructs to give you clues and guide you on your way. And there’s a number of other little clues. I think we’ll get into a few things about how I see guides as a huge part of the hotel experience, both physically and digitally in a bit.

 

00:19:25:22 – 00:19:37:01

Tessa Bain

You know, you said that you don’t want the tech to pull people from being present in the moment. How are you planning on integrating the technology in a way that’s not distracting, like with the guides? And along that line.

 

00:19:37:18 – 00:20:01:10

Colleen Newell

You have all these thoughts as your first building something and then you learn and then you think, Oh, there’s maybe a different way or a better way. And originally I was thinking that air would be the main tech that would be leveraged for the hotel. And I was thinking that glasses would really be the way to go. Obviously, there’s an expense to that hardware as well as the hardware still has a bit to go to get really to where I want it to be.

 

00:20:01:26 – 00:20:22:18

Colleen Newell

So many people are doing incredible experiences using AR with their phone and it’s amazing because it’s very site specific because it’s so immersive. I don’t want to have the distraction of someone holding up their phone or their iPad or not being present. So I think where we’ve landed is that it will be engineered projection mapping that I’ll support much of the tech in the physical experience.

 

00:20:22:19 – 00:20:26:26

Colleen Newell

There’ll be other layers, but that will be one of the main, so a lot of be very choreographed.

 

00:20:26:29 – 00:20:38:27

Andrew Lane

You have a lot of different media, physical, digital, AR, VR, all these things. How did you pull this together into a story to bring partners and investors on board to start to make this a reality?

 

00:20:40:05 – 00:20:56:21

Colleen Newell

Yeah, it’s big. Yes, I tell people all the time, and even as I’m pitching it, I say I, I see. I know how big this is and you’ve been talking through it, but I believe in it with every bit of my being. And so it makes it easy to talk about. I started building the story. What’s the story?

 

00:20:56:21 – 00:21:14:05

Colleen Newell

Architecture. Why am I doing this? What’s the goal? Who is the customer? And again, that changes and evolves and you just have to be open and flexible to how that evolves. And then building out a deck that helped me just as much as it helped whomever I was sharing it with and pitching it to and layering in all of the different components.

 

00:21:14:05 – 00:21:34:04

Colleen Newell

And then it’s building a kickass advisor team and really working with them to say, This is how I envision rolling it out. How do you feel? How can we get to an MVP? All of those kind of tough conversations and you lean into your expertise, but you also really rely on the team that you’ve built to help make the best decisions.

 

00:21:34:11 – 00:21:43:29

Andrew Lane

You talked about pulling together your advisory board. They’d be great if you could just tell us a little bit more about how you thought about what that group was and how you brought them together and got them aligned and working towards your vision.

 

00:21:44:22 – 00:22:08:01

Colleen Newell

Sure. For me, it’s been a pretty organic process. As you’re building these ideas, you tend to want to reach out to those that you trust first as you’re incubating and holding things close and your inner circle tends to be those maybe you’ve worked with in the past know you really well know the field that you’re interested in. So I reached out to those people first and gauged interest as well as participation.

 

00:22:08:01 – 00:22:38:21

Colleen Newell

There were certain people that were really fired up to want to keep talking and also wanted to support me and really believed in the vision. And then there were areas like tech, for instance, as I’ve shared, wasn’t the strength of ABC. So as much as I’ve been enormously interested and incredibly passionate about it, I haven’t spent years and years building in it, so needed to find the right tech support, if you will, and the right tech advisor and networked like crazy to find the right person.

 

00:22:38:21 – 00:22:39:23

Colleen Newell

And I’m super psyched.

 

00:22:40:04 – 00:22:41:21

Andrew Lane

How do you know when you hit the right fit?

 

00:22:42:15 – 00:22:48:04

Colleen Newell

I get really passionate, really excited. And when that person can meet my passion, it’s done.

 

00:22:48:19 – 00:22:58:08

Bobby Bonett

I’m sure you deal with doubters along the way and it’s not like all the press we hear about web3 and the metaverse, cryptocurrency is universally positive, so.

 

00:22:58:19 – 00:23:00:07

Andrew Lane

Crypto is pretty positive, I think maybe.

 

00:23:01:06 – 00:23:17:02

Bobby Bonett

So when you’re when you get whether it’s like just a pregnant pause or somebody saying, Colleen, you’re out of your dang mind, Obviously there’s no lack of confidence because you’re so passionate about this. But I’m sure there are moments where you probably say, Oh my goodness, I’m doing something that’s pretty wild.

 

00:23:17:06 – 00:23:32:19

Colleen Newell

Sure, there’s moments I’ve had. I can think of one meeting in particular that really got me to and it wasn’t even that. It was just like, Hey, this is super cool. It’s just not for me. And you just can’t go into things attached. And I did. I went into that meeting feeling attached that this person, it would resonate and it didn’t.

 

00:23:32:19 – 00:23:47:06

Colleen Newell

So it really bummed me out and got me down for a day or two. And I just thought, there’s going to be a lot of people along the way that have that response or worse. And I just have to keep moving because I know that this is meaningful and it’s going to be it’s going to be special.

 

00:23:48:09 – 00:24:06:10

Tessa Bain

I think that’s really relatable that we’ve all had those days and we’ve all had those moments, and it’s how you react to them. So I like that ode to attachment, I think is it’s a good reminder. I’m going to take a bit of a tangent too, and ask you a question that I think might interest a lot of the designers and interior architects out there right now.

 

00:24:06:16 – 00:24:30:22

Tessa Bain

You’re clearly a dreamer and a visionary, a big imagination, and you’re, you know, finding ways to make it very tangible, which is exciting. The market’s sort of moving towards this demand for cross hybrid spaces. I mean, we hate the word ‘phygital’, but the mix of a digital and a physical experience together, you know, what kind of advice can you give the community to start thinking outside the box and building these spaces?

 

00:24:31:23 – 00:24:57:07

Colleen Newell

This is my point of view, right? So we can all only come to something with your own individual perspective, but in the physical experience, I want the tech to be an enhancement to the experience. It shouldn’t be the experience because I think if you’re relying on the tech to be the experience, it’s going to feel very trend focused and it’s going to evolve in two days anyway, it just moved so fast, so you have to have a strong anchor in ‘Why are you creating the space?’

 

00:24:57:08 – 00:25:06:26

Colleen Newell

‘What do you want people to feel and what are the best tools to help evoke that?’ And a designer is an architect. So who’s better at deciding how to get those messages across.

 

00:25:07:11 – 00:25:13:15

Tessa Bain

In your applying this in your case to hospitality? But do you see this as something that can apply to other industries or other segments?

 

00:25:13:28 – 00:25:36:06

Colleen Newell

Sure. I mean, retail, I think as we’ve talked a little bit, it was like the antithesis of tech forward, and yet they nailed Journey Experience all day long, I think to truly succeed in that space. It’s all about finding the right balance of experience to product. You can have the best experience in the world, but if your product is sh*t, it’s not going to go very far.

 

00:25:36:19 – 00:26:07:24

Colleen Newell

So if we can get the tech and a retail experience to not only make the experience inside of say, checkout smoother, that’s cool. That’s great. I also really like humans, so I kind of want to interact with them. You think of different ways that projection can participate in retail storytelling. A lot of times we rely on cards, if you will, physical card to tell a story of a maker or a product or something, but to create a somewhat immersive experience sound, rely on your senses and see how technology can enhance what we’re already given.

 

00:26:08:04 – 00:26:25:18

Bobby Bonett

You’ve mentioned a couple of the components of the experience that you’re most excited about, so could you pick one or two and maybe the guides and explain to our listeners what makes you excited about the experience and why the format you’re thinking about for the INBTWN is really the only format where that experience come to life.

 

00:26:26:08 – 00:26:51:12

Colleen Newell

Sure. Typically you walk into a hotel experience physical hotel experience, and you see a bellman, concierge, the hotel team, if you will, there to support you. I really want to create new language for what this experience can be like right now, for lack of a better term, which will evolve about. I’ve landed on guides and really the significance of that is these guides in the physical world, there’s something more to them.

 

00:26:51:23 – 00:27:09:25

Colleen Newell

So that projection mapping that I was talking about will interact with the hotel team, these guides, so that as you’re checking in or as you’re interacting, someone might turn slowly or raise an arm and you suddenly see a bit of magic dust falling from a shoulder or you see a flutter of a wing just to indicate there’s definitely something more happening.

 

00:27:09:25 – 00:27:31:02

Colleen Newell

And then when you join in the digital experience and you’re really in the game, you see that that guide has fully transformed into the Firefly, which is the brand icon for the INBTWN. And there’s lots of symbolism we can get into about fireflies. But they turn into fireflies and they help guide you throughout your experience. And there’s a language they have to decode and there’s emotional states.

 

00:27:31:02 – 00:27:33:08

Colleen Newell

And it’s quite the really fantastic game.

 

00:27:33:28 – 00:27:34:29

Bobby Bonett

Yeah, a lot of layers.

 

00:27:35:00 – 00:27:38:28

Tessa Bain

Oh, tell us a little bit more about the design inspiration and the general esthetic.

 

00:27:39:27 – 00:28:02:16

Colleen Newell

Sure. Well, one of my kind of oldest references of inspiration is Art Nouveau, period. And what came out of it is an endless source of inspiration for me. I love the femininity of it. I love, you know, you kind of strip away some of that ornamentation and it’s just mind blowing. It feels it’s so forward. The biomimicry, again, the elegant lines.

 

00:28:02:16 – 00:28:20:06

Colleen Newell

So if you take that and you kind of push it forward into the technology that we have available today, like 3D printing, laser cutting and see and see, it’s pretty mind blowing what can be created. So that’s really the foundation of the esthetic. It is a more feminine perspective, I would say overall.

 

00:28:20:26 – 00:28:32:29

Andrew Lane

The ultimate realization of this experience. Do you see it as something this fully gamified or is it actually something that could be transformative to the industry? Would people actually stay in these hotels in the way that you’re imagining this coming to life?

 

00:28:33:12 – 00:28:51:28

Colleen Newell

100%. It’ll certainly be a game and there will be people that participate in the game portion of it. And we haven’t really gotten into this, but you think of NFTs and sure, there’s a whole movement and population of people that are really responding to and have to use for the quality of artwork that they possess. Know what I really respond to about NFTs is the utility potential that they offer.

 

00:28:52:06 – 00:29:06:16

Colleen Newell

I think that can really revolutionize how hotel experiences are and even restaurant experiences. I want to change the industry and I want to up the bar on what service good service can be considered small goals. Yeah, just little ones.

 

00:29:07:01 – 00:29:14:06

Bobby Bonett

You must be waking up in the middle of the night writing that idea. The amount of layers is impressive and it’s exciting, and I’m wondering how to get on the waitlist then.

 

00:29:14:13 – 00:29:24:27

Colleen Newell

Yeah. Yeah. Soon enough we’ll be launching the signups for waitlist shortly. So I think I’m not exactly sure at the time of this airing, but it will be soon.

 

00:29:31:23 – 00:29:42:00

Tessa Bain

Before we wrap up today, we just want to get a sense of advice that you might give our listeners on where they can get started or what resources they can access to dig in further on this space.

 

00:29:42:26 – 00:30:04:00

Colleen Newell

Sure, as I said, tech was not my strongest suit, so I dove in headfirst into everything that’s out there at our fingertips. LinkedIn is actually the prize in the great resource. Kathy Hochul, thought leader love her journey. And in particular, there are so many interesting things Discord, super interesting and really foreign for those that aren’t.

 

00:30:04:01 – 00:30:05:21

Andrew Lane

Get past the Discord user guide.

 

00:30:05:21 – 00:30:33:02

Colleen Newell

Exactly. It’s not pretty pitch, but there’s a ton of information there and it’s been super fun to engage in that. Reading a ton. Listening to podcast two of my favorites, Cathy tackles her Adweek podcast and I also really love Luke Franks. Welcome to the Metaverse. The other thing I will say, engage in the space. So probably not the best time to say buy a little crypto, but what I mean by that is just know how to do it.

 

00:30:33:02 – 00:30:48:06

Colleen Newell

So buy a little crypto, go from your like hot storage to cold storage, understand what it means. Buy an NFT, mint an NFT just so that you can really see what kind of a base layer is happening. It’s really just scratching the surface. Those are just foundational pieces.

 

00:30:48:14 – 00:30:52:22

Tessa Bain

So I mean suggests that we buy the dip.

 

00:30:52:22 – 00:30:54:05

Colleen Newell

This is not financial advice.

 

00:30:55:26 – 00:31:18:29

Andrew Lane

Thanks so much for coming and joining us at the wonderful Work Life Meetings podcast space here at Vornado Properties. That’s our last plug, I think, for the day. But we wanted to thank you so much for your time and for sharing the vision for this incredible product with us. We’re really excited and looking forward to seeing people signing up and being a part of the world that you’re going to create from the origins way back in Cleveland, Ohio.

 

00:31:19:22 – 00:31:29:09

Colleen Newell

Thank you guys so much. This was so fun. Thank you.

 

00:31:29:09 – 00:32:00:28

Andrew Lane

All right. And if you haven’t been following along with your hot cocoa, we hope you enjoyed our first Christmas episode of Barriers to Entry. But really, we hope that you loved that conversation with Colleen as much as we did. The thing that got me the most excited you guys. It was just the way in which we’re seeing that technology is really starting to catch up with imagination in all of this, that if you can create something in your mind, the tech is rapidly becoming available to realize how you can execute that in both physical and digital and hybrid worlds.

 

00:32:00:28 – 00:32:18:24

Andrew Lane

And I think that that’s just an exciting place to be in an industry of creators, in an industry of intellectual property, at a time when we have a society that’s really becoming more accustomed and even craving these kinds of digital experiences, the things we’re able to deliver for them are really impressive. And I think we heard about that in some concrete ways today.

 

00:32:19:21 – 00:32:32:02

Tessa Bain

I really loved her passion, you know, like I thought that she was so inspiring and she dreams big and she thinks big and I really love how she applied that to her actual process and the way she speaks about how she designs.

 

00:32:32:02 – 00:32:56:19

Bobby Bonett

It’s one thing to be passionate, but Colleen’s ability to blend that with her entrepreneurial nature is really impressive. But she is determined by this idea that has been in some way in in her mind since she was a child. And there’s clearly, with Colleen, no taking no for an answer. The ideas and the concept and the project and the experiences are evolving on a regular basis.

 

00:32:56:29 – 00:33:07:10

Bobby Bonett

And that’s why, as somebody who’s only spoken to Colleen a handful of times, I’m a huge believer in her and I’m excited to see what the INBTWN winds up looking. And I’ll be one of those people on that waiting list.

 

00:33:07:11 – 00:33:28:09

Andrew Lane

Yeah, it’s interesting the degree and it’s something that we actually talk about a lot at Digby, which is just the energy around the partners that we work with. We think it’s so important to be on the same page as the people that you’re going to be spending your time with. I think one of the interesting things about that is just that balance of having also people who can keep you real in check and make sure that you are making the right decisions.

 

00:33:28:09 – 00:33:37:00

Andrew Lane

But at the same time, you need to be hearing that from people who you trust and people who you have the right kind of energy from. And it sounds like she’s created that network, which is so important for an entrepreneur.

 

00:33:37:26 – 00:33:43:22

Tessa Bain

It was certainly an inspiring podcast and it was magical and–  

 

00:33:44:11 – 00:34:03:03

Andrew Lane

Yeah, spritely. And I think that there’s going to be a few extra trips to Cleveland, perhaps this holiday season off the back of this Cleveland not yet a podcast sponsor, but perhaps soon we shall see. Speaking of plugs, Bobby, do we have anything that we want to plug before we head out today?

 

00:34:03:03 – 00:34:04:25

Bobby Bonett

Obviously want to start by plugging Christmas.

 

00:34:05:19 – 00:34:06:08

Andrew Lane

That’s a given.

 

00:34:06:16 – 00:34:07:17

Bobby Bonett

Big Yes, you.

 

00:34:07:21 – 00:34:08:19

Tessa Bain

Big, big fan.

 

00:34:08:27 – 00:34:17:07

Bobby Bonett

You can learn about the INBTWN studios now at Colleen’s new website, theinbtwn.xyz, t-h-e-i-n-b-t-w-n-.-x-y-z.

 

00:34:08:27 – 00:34:17:07

 

Bobby Bonett

Barriers to Entry is produced by the studio by SANDOW, Sam, Wize, Hannah, thank you. If you can hear us from here. Thank you.

 

00:34:17:07 – 00:34:18:21

Andrew Lane

Happy holidays to those three.

 

00:34:19:10 – 00:34:34:13

Bobby Bonett

Especially those three. Remember, you can get Barriers to Entry on any major podcast platform. And after you search the podcast and you find it on Spotify or you find it on Apple Podcasts, I want you with all of the might in your index finger to slam on the follow button.

 

00:34:34:13 – 00:34:37:11

Andrew Lane

Slam it down like a hot cup of eggnog.

 

00:34:37:24 – 00:34:42:23

Bobby Bonett

And then follow that up with five stars. That’s like this because this is a five star gang, right here.

 

00:34:42:29 – 00:34:43:08

Tessa Bain

That’s Important.

 

00:34:43:14 – 00:34:55:26

Bobby Bonett

And remember, Barriers to Entry available on the SURROUND podcast network SURRROUNDpodcasts.com. Don’t forget the S the key is for savings And yeah, why don’t you take us home, Tess?

 

00:34:56:18 – 00:34:59:10

Tessa Bain

You know, gentlemen, I hope that Santa treats you well.

 

00:34:59:16 – 00:35:01:15

Andrew Lane

Maybe that extra is for Santa. Actually.

 

00:35:01:24 – 00:35:11:13

Tessa Bain

It could be. We hope that you get everything that you desire this year. And for our listeners out there, our holiday wish for you is that we’ve managed to break down your barriers to entry.

 

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host
Andrew Lane Host profile picture

Andrew Lane

Andrew Lane is Co-founder of digby, co-founder of Interior Design Magazine’s (MAD) Awards and co-host of the podcast Barriers to Entry.

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Bobby Bonnett Host profile picture

Bobby Bonett

Bobby Bonett is EVP of Digital and strategic growth at SANDOW Design Group and co-host of the podcast Barriers to Entry.

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Tessa Bain Host profile picture

Tessa Bain

Tessa Bain is a digby co-founder, co-founder of Interior Design Magazine’s MAD Awards and also co-host of Barriers to Entry.

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