A Real Good Experiment: My hunt for one of Blu Dot’s Real Good Chairs

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The combination of working as a strategist at an ad agency and having an unhealthy obsession with design meant that it was almost inevitable that I was going to get a little overexcited when I heard about this campaign…

Blu Dot, one of my favorite NY design stores, inspired by the incredibly prevalent New York sight of furniture and art left on the sidewalk for people to take, decided to embark on the Real Good Experiment. The story: 25 of Blu Dot’s beautiful Real Good Chairs were going to be dropped in spots all over NYC for passers by to find, take home and enjoy. As if this act of brand generosity wasn’t a good enough way to spark a strong word-of-mouth campaign and create a legion of new brand advocates, these chairs were also GPS-enabled which meant that their journeys to homes across New York, the US and perhaps beyond could be followed online. Real Good Chair also set up a Twitter page, posting tantalizing clues and photos as to which New York neighborhood they were currently residing in.

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So now it’s time for my story- All day at work, I watched as the Real Good Chairs came and went- From Soho, Noho and Greenwich Village to Brooklyn and Harlem, it was torture knowing that the chairs were but a subway ride away…After what seemed like an eternity having to impatiently bide my time, waiting for the end of the working day, I set off, determined to find a Real Good Chair.

As fate would have it, I was technologically neutered as my Blackberry decided that it wasn’t going to let me access Twitter to follow the whereabouts of the chairs (serves me right for not having an i-phone I suppose). I was going to have to do this old school. Having quickly established that walking round New York looking for a chair on a sidewalk was going to prove fruitless, I headed for Blu Dot’s store in Soho to get some info. After pleading with Traci and the staff at Blu Dot to give me a clue as to the whereabouts of a chair, I was sent in the direction of the East Village where I was told I might find the last remaining chair. The chase was on…

I had fantasies of jumping in a yellow car, seeing a Blu Dot chair on the move and barking “Follow that chair! For the love of God, follow that chair.” Alas with Manhattan rush hour traffic at a complete standstill I had little choice but to head to the East village on foot. When I say on foot I mean it quite literally, as with strict orders from my Doctor and various physical therapists that my left foot was barely up to the task of walking, let alone jogging, I was forced to hop most of the way there. As I got closer, however, the tantalizing thought of a chair just sitting on the curb, begging to be taken home, was too much for me to take and I broke out into full on sprint. Forget health, I thought. This was in the name of design.

Armed with the knowledge that the last Chair Drop had been made somewhere in the East Village I began my hunt. After calling and repeatedly begging the guys at Blu Dot to tell me at least what street it was on (by this point I think I had gone from a cheeky but lovable English chap to a downright nuisance) I was told it might be on 1st Avenue between 5th and 15th street. To say I am now well acquainted with those 10 blocks is an understatement. I spent the next 45 minutes doing my best impersonation of Usain Bolt, sprinting back and forth down these streets time after time. With the rain lashing down, an unhinged look in my eyes and an increasingly disheveled appearance I soon became aware of the complete bemusement my escapades were causing shop owners and passing locals. I didn’t care. I pressed on. however, knowing that the last chair was black, noticing that the last of the day’s light had long-since vanished and possessing eye-sight as atrocious as my 85 year old grandma, I was starting to fear the worst.

As I fell to my knees to suck some well deserved air and rue my bad luck I noticed a man with an impressive looking SLR camera and a women who looked too cool not be in the design or fashion industry…Salvation? Alas, while they were indeed the crew from Blu Dot and Mono (the agency who I later learnt were responsible for the conception and execution of the Real Good Experiment), they informed me that I had, regretfully, missed the chair by a matter of minutes…

Although I trudged downbeat to dinner with some old work colleagues in the Lower East Side, dejected and disconsolate at my failure, I soon realized not only that I had just had a hilarious and typically Dylan encounter, but that I would be telling the story of the chair that got away for years to come. I had not only loved and admired Blu Dot’s Real Good Experiment, but had, to some extent been part of it; A truly killer Word-Of-Mouth campaign from my favorite New York designers. I was already a fan and advocate, but am now undoubtedly an evangelist.

I look forward to writing more when the video diaries are released next month, telling the tales of the lucky few to have found the chairs and the homes, near and far, that they have ended up in.

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6 responses to “A Real Good Experiment: My hunt for one of Blu Dot’s Real Good Chairs

  1. Real good post Dylan. ReTweeted, so do I get to take it out for a day if you win one?

  2. How sad……………. that you didn’t find the holy grail but how fab that you had the passion and enthusiasm to leave no stone, or should I say “achilles tendon” unturned in your valiant quest!
    Blu dot should feature your blog in their next experiment!

  3. Jesus on a pogo stick, are you out of your mind, it’s just a bleeding chair, a lump of wood, an inanimate object, which is what I think your brain has turned into, is that what I slaved away for forty years to afford your school fees for? I could understand you chasing all over NewYork for a woman, drugs,tickets to see Springsteen, but a chair, I feel sick,at the thought of it, do you realise the shame you have bought apon our family. How can I tell my friends? your Grand Parents, anyone… My son, the chair chaser. You are to come back to London immediately, no arguments. I have made an appointment with a specialist. They may name a new disease after you. All this time I thought you were carving out a career, in the big city,to find you are spending time running and hopping round the back streets of New York to find someting to sit your arse on that you have five of already in your very cramped apartment, which can go along with your priceless antique bottle collection, the thrift store telephone table you “had to buy” a steal at only $700.00, the designer book shelves, $500.00, made by a blind half wit, and the assorted blowup sex dolls, and sheep that you seem so fond of.It’s no wonder your mother is taking valium and that I am once again facing a long prison sentence. You are a disgrace to the family and Incidentally I have still not forgiven you for taking me to the restaurant at the end of your road, the Minetta Tavern, where I had to pay $60.00 for a hamburger. In London you can buy three chairs fo $60.00 and still have enough left over for a good night out at the theatre and a visit to a prostitute. Forget the damn chairs, concentrate on your work, and keep taking your medication,

    Your Father.

  4. I love the story! As another Blu Dot fan, though, as well as a proud Twin Cities resident, I feel I have to pipe up to say that Blu Dot are wonderful Minneapolis-based designers.

    There’s a reason we call it the “Minne-apple”.

  5. Thanks for the nice comments.
    Blu Dot and Target…Surely the best two things to have come from Minneapolis

  6. Pingback: Nonsense Upon Stilts » Blog Archive » A real good idea

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