View of a man dressed in a dark coloured plaid shirt and a hat at a venue. There are multiple people in the background
(Image credit: TBC)

What particular elements conspire to make the perfect nightclub? Should it be subterranean and labyrinthine or light and airy on a vertiginous, penthouse level? A dark and lovely wonderland of carefully engineered aural balance, alcoves, podiums and soft furnishings? Or just a hangar-sized space with a big name deejay, a sound system like a 747 engine and at least one efficient and expertly-versed barman for every dozen or so punters?

With design and innovation always central to its forward-thinking remit, premium Dutch brewer Heineken has spent the last year on an exhaustive world tour, signing up young design talent to help co-create the ultimate innovative concept nightclub.

Working under the guidance of leading design experts from a range of fields - interiors architecture, product design, graphic design, interactive and experiential design, identity design and fashion design – Heineken hand-picked a young team to pool its various talents, encouraging them to explore the ‘science of social engagement’ and collaborate in the production of a boundary-pushing ‘concept club’ to be unveiled as a live event during Milan’s Salone Del Mobile design festival, in April 2012.

Starting with a working title of ‘Open Design Explorations, Edition 1; The Club’, Heineken’s project has successfully harnessed hot young design talent from across the globe to conceive a pioneering interpretation of the ‘social space’, creating unexpected, vibrant future concepts, not just for Heineken but also for the wider world of bar-design, dance music culture and social spaces. Specifically, that great melting pot of euphoria and relaxation: the nightclub.

The Mission: To set a collaborative, exploitative, cross-cultural, cross-discipline challenge to designers, sourcing 19 nascent, young talents in the arenas of fashion, interiors, motion, product and graphics to work together and design every detail of Heineken’s conceptual club.

All aspects of high-quality design and research-based insight will be implemented to achieve and enhance the ultimate social experience. The idea? To explore ways to improve drinking environments via new concepts for social spaces, creating new excitement around those happy and rewarding, precious moments when people enjoy beer.

Born of a curiosity, an open innovation challenge was set to up-and-coming designers around the world to co-create their vision of a future nightclub and enhance the experience of clubbing, whilst asking what drives today's global club cultures.

The goal was to offer the platform to designers to showcase their talent and vision and for Heineken to better understand how to enhance clubbing through great design – a win/win situation for both parties!

So, for the past year Heineken has been working with this ‘open innovation’ brief – a process of co-creating with consumers and teams of young talent, as well as showcasing individual visionary concepts, as part of a multidisciplinary design exploration team.

It was essential that the project addressed and understood the commonalities, and respected cultural differences in clubbing. In order to access cross-cultural insights, blend design disciplines, spark off myriad ideas and facilitate co-creation on a global level, Heineken utilised the creative network PechaKucha. With PechaKucha as an event platform, prospective designers could showcase their work and reveal their personalities before a final selection decision was made. Raw talent was vital but enthusiasm for co-creation was also deemed essential.

Names from New York, Milan, Tokyo and Sao Paulo were selected via a short list devised by a team of creative mentors; a crack unit of world-class designers especially engaged by Heineken, chosen from disciplines that play an integral part of the exciting and unique nightlife experience.  Each and every one of this team embraced the idea and played a vital role in the evolution of the ‘pop-up club’.

Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.