Target Open House is a must see for anyone who loves IKEA, the Disney Channel Original Movie “Smart House” and the future of home furnishing. This part lab, part retail space and part meeting venue opened on July 10 in San Francisco’s Metreon shopping center, and is a destination for art and tech lovers alike.
The 3,500 square foot acrylic house features all sorts of “connected” technology, otherwise known as The Internet of Things. The idea is to connect everyday household items — like thermostats, lamps and coffee makers — to the internet for a more personalized and efficient living situation.
“Putting a house in the space, we felt, was the most relatable and welcoming way to introduce these products,” said Todd Waterbury, Target’s chief creative officer. “What we’re trying to do is humanize and personalize the benefits of these products, as well as show them working in concert. It’s really about relevant storytelling and creating a destination for engagement and discussion.”
Take a baby monitor, for instance. At Target Open House, this formerly basic, yet critical household item is connected to a handful of other devices and takes on a whole new level of efficiency — the monitor connects to a set of speakers that play soothing music when the baby wakes up, which also prompts the connected coffee maker to brew a fresh pot and the connected lights to turn on, signaling the start of a new day. Suddenly, essential household items take on a life of their own.
The goal of Open House is to demystify smart home products and to inspire people to make their homes a more connected and personalized abode. Brands like Nest, August, Sonos and Jawbone are using the space to share daily product demos.
Target Open House welcomes people from all walks of life — from artists to techies to architects to renters to homeowners — but the visitors won’t be the only ones learning something from the Open House experience.
As visitors check out and try out the devices, Target receives real-time feedback from those interactions, which they can use to build on and improve Open House. The space also gives Target a place to host meetings, tech talks, product demos and product launches. So, while visitors are using Open House to make their own lives and homes better connected, Target is using it to expand and personalize its own connections as a company.
“From a strategic perspective, we see Internet of Things as a megatrend on the horizon. We know it’s going to generate huge value,” said Casey Carl, Target’s chief strategy and innovation officer. “We’re using Open House to test the trend, both for us and for guests.”
But connected devices can be complicated, and it can be hard to know exactly which device will fit your specific needs, which is why Target Open House is offering a generous return policy. This will please customers and Target alike, with more people willing to do some trial and error, and Target reaping the benefits of consumer feedback.
“If something came back and wasn’t working for someone, that’s an amazing opportunity to conduct consumer research,” David Newman, director of enterprise growth initiatives and head of Target’s San Francisco office said in a Fortune article. “Because we’re working closely with our manufacturers, we have the opportunity to take very obvious issues, like we sold 12 of these and nine of them have come back, and we can take it off the shelves and work with them to figure out what’s wrong.”
Open House is located at 789 Mission St. and is open on the weekends from 10 am to 8pm and on weekdays from 9am to 9pm, except for Thursdays when the space closes at 5pm to host events. So take a walk around the home of the future and maybe you’ll be inspired to modernize your own place.