Two interactive retail installations foster connection and community among cyclists in Specialized’s Chicago Hub flagship.
In keeping with its motto, to “Innovate or Die,” Specialized Bicycle Components is expanding into brick and mortar. Specialized worked closely with Patten Studio to create two interactive experiences for its new Chicago Hub store—one of the brand’s earliest forays into experiential retail. Together, Patten Studio and Specialized conceived and developed two interactive retail installations to help forge a stronger bond between Chicago riders and the Specialized brand by celebrating riders’ participation in the sport and highlighting their membership in a vibrant subculture built around a shared love of cycling.
The Community Wall is a touch-interactive heatmap of Chicago’s cycling community. By browsing the Community Wall, riders visiting the Chicago Hub can discover new trails and destinations listed as Staff Picks. Colorful trail descriptions help riders glean bits of insider knowledge pertaining to the trails and their nearby attractions.
The Community Wall is populated by photos uploaded by riders visiting the Chicago Hub. Photos are “pinned” to the map using their embedded geolocation metadata. Anyone who wants to can upload their photos to the Community Wall, with the goal being for the installation to serve and reflect the City’s cycling community.
Because the Community Wall is composed of engraved modular panels overlaid with projected interactive content, the installation is highly versatile. Both physical and digital content can be removed, re-imagined, and refreshed seasonally so that visitors are always experiencing something new.
The Reveal Room is an immersive, aural chamber that captures the experience of riding a Specialized bicycle. Embedded speakers in the floor and walls create a 360 degree audio-mapped environment. The whir of the bicycle’s freehub and the sound of its tire treads rolling over terrain come from below, whereas the sound of wind is ear-level. Atmospheric sounds, like bird song, track backward along the walls, creating an aural illusion of forward motion. As Specialized debuts new bicycles seasonally, the Reveal Room’s soundtrack changes to match the featured bicycle on display.
The Community Wall and Reveal Room debuted with the opening of Specialized’s Chicago Hub in Spring of 2022. Since the opening of the Chicago Hub flagship, local and visiting cyclists have flocked to the store for an experience markedly different from any bicycle shop they have encountered before. Following the success of the Chicago Hub, Specialized has continued to pursue its new Direct to Consumer strategy, with store and experience center openings planned in cities across the United States.