Don’t call it a store! Samsung wants its NYC flagship to be a ‘cultural hub’

For geeks and creatives, the newest tourist destination in New York City comes from a familiar name: Samsung.

In the heart of one of Manhattan’s trendiest neighborhoods, the Meatpacking District – across from the popular elevated park, the High Line, and surrounded by high-fashion boutiques – is a massive, multi-story space called Samsung 837 (named after its address, 837 Washington Street). While there are plenty of Samsung products to be found, the electronics giant has another goal.

Samsung 837 is billed as a digital playground and culture epicenter that’s open to the public. There is an auditorium with a stage for hosting events such as concerts, and lectures. Behind the stage, a giant digital screen, composed of 96 55-inch displays, is used for special screenings, such as films or the recent Oscar-viewing party; for other times, visitors can have their selfies taken with a nearby camera and have them displayed on the screen.

“People don’t need another store. We are trying to build the flagship of the future.”

On the main floor, an art gallery features rotating digital installations; the current exhibit, called Social Galaxy, is a visual-aural experience that brings your Instagram feed alive, on a multitude of Samsung monitors and tablets. On the top floor, a connected living room demonstrates how a smart home works, while a full kitchen is available for cooking demonstrations and classes. There is even a small café where guests can purchase food and drink.

The one thing Samsung employees are quick to correct you on is that Samsung 837 isn’t a store, despite the various phones, tablets, VR headsets, televisions, watches, and appliances that are on display. Nothing is for sale, although employees will gladly help you purchase an item through one of its resellers. Besides being a community space of sorts, Samsung 837 is also the company’s “marketing center of excellence.” You could call it whatever you want, but ultimately Samsung 837 is a retail exercise.

Samsung 837 isn’t the company’s first foray into brick-and-mortar retail, but it is one of its more ambitious. It draws influences from its neighbor a block away, a prominent Apple Store. For instance, it has a service station similar to Apple’s Genius Bar. As Apple has successfully demonstrated, retail stores can be community-gathering places.

But Samsung 837 takes it to the next level. Instead of drawing people in with product, Samsung 837 seemingly focuses on the activity first, and then how its products could be used in those environments – from experiencing virtual reality through Galaxy VR headsets to cooking a meal on Samsung ranges and comparing selfie image quality through a showdown between Samsung’s new Galaxy S7 phone and the competition. Zach Overton, the VP and General Manager of Samsung 837, says the space was designed around eight passion points: art, music, entertainment, sports, wellness, culinary, technology, and fashion. Every section of the building focuses on these topics.

“People don’t need another store,” Overton says. “We are trying to build the flagship of the future.”

What we find appealing is the notion of the building as creative space that’s open to all.

With that approach, Samsung’s latest retail venture becomes a must-see destination, even if you don’t use its products. It’s a place where you can be the first to sample the latest tech before it goes mainstream. The modern facility, developed by the firm Wonderwall and Samsung’s in-house design team, is decked out with dark, mid-century-style (albeit overly masculine) furnishings, and is a relaxing respite in a frequently busy neighborhood. It is fun to put on VR goggles, settle into a comfy chair, and get lost for a few minutes.

What we find appealing is the notion of the building as creative space that’s open to all. Besides product demos, Samsung 837 has pro-quality equipment and studios for editing video and audio, and high-end appliances for creating restaurant-quality meals. These tools and services allow people to create things like podcasts or YouTube videos, giving them access to things they might not have on a regular basis (or at all).

However, we’ve seen similar retail concepts in the past, only to see them fail or turn into something that wasn’t intended. If Samsung 837 succeeds in truly becoming a cultural hub, as designed, and function more as a community center than store, it could be a city landmark worth taking visiting friends and family to.

Smart Home

Say so long to silver. Samsung brings new colors to household appliances

Samsung introduced two new appliance colors, Tuscan Stainless will be available for several kitchen appliances starting in May and for the Family Hub in August. New Samsung washers and dryers will be offered in Champagne Finish.

Samsung's Unpacked draws near. Here's what we know about the Galaxy S10 so far

It won't be long now. With 2019 underway, the Samsung Galaxy S10 is almost here. Before it arrives, here's absolutely everything you need to know about all three of Samsung's next flagships.

The best Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus cases to keep your titanic phone safe

The new Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus is a gorgeous device, with one of the best dual-lens cameras we've ever seen. Keep your titanic device safe and scratch-free with the best Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus cases.

Smartwatch sales soared in 2018, with Apple leading the charge

The NPD Group, a market research organization, has reported smartwatch sales soared in 2018. Apple is leading the charge, but it's clear there's still room in the market for competitors, as Samsung and Fitbit also did well.
Emerging Tech

How can digital art created on obsolete platforms be preserved?

As the lines between art and technology continue to blur, digital art experiences become more commonplace. But these developments are raising an important question for art conservationists: How should digital artworks be preserved?
Emerging Tech

Statistician raises red flag about reliability of machine learning techniques

Machine learning is everywhere in science and technology. But how reliable are these techniques really? A statistician argues that questions of accuracy and reproducibility of machine learning have not been fully addressed.
Emerging Tech

Here’s how Facebook taught its Portal A.I. to think like a Hollywood filmmaker

When Facebook introduced its Portal screen-enhanced smart speakers, it wanted to find a way to make video chat as intimate as sitting down for a conversation with a friend. Here's how it did it.
Emerging Tech

Chandra X-ray telescope uncovers evidence of the universe’s missing matter

Where is all of the matter in the universe? NASA's Chandra telescope has uncovered evidence of hot gas strands in the vicinity of a quasar which could explain the missing third of matter which has puzzled astronomers for years.
Emerging Tech

Wish you could fly? You totally can with these top-of-the-line drones

In just the past few years, drones have transformed from a geeky hobbyist affair to a full-on cultural phenomenon. Here's a no-nonsense rundown of the best drones you can buy right now, no matter what kind of flying you plan to do.
Emerging Tech

NASA’s space observatory will map the sky with unprecedented detail

NASA is preparing to launch a cutting-edge space observatory to create the most detailed map ever produced of the sky. Doing so will involve surveying hundreds of millions of galaxies. Here's how it plans to do it.
Smart Home

No strings attached: This levitating lamp uses science to defy gravity

Now on Kickstarter, the Levia lamp is a cool industrial-looking lamp which boasts a levitating bulb. Looking for a table light that will dazzle visitors? You've come to the right place.
Emerging Tech

The Great White Shark’s genome has been decoded, and it could help us end cancer

In a significant step for marine and genetic science, researchers have decoded the genome of the great white shark. The genetic code revealed a wealth of insight into what makes these creatures so successful from an evolutionary standpoint.
Emerging Tech

‘Guerrilla rainstorm’ warning system aims to prevent soakings, or worse

Japanese researchers have created a "guerrilla rainstorm" early-warning system aimed at preventing severe soakings, or worse. The team hopes to launch the system before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Barbie’s Corvette ain’t got nothing on Sphero’s fully programmable robot car

Sphero is known for devices like the Sphero Bolt and BB-8 Star Wars toy, but now the company is back with another addition to its lineup -- the Sphero RVR. The RVR is a fully programmable robot car that can be expanding with different…