As soon as Wes Ng stepped inside one of Yayoi Kusama’s spellbinding infinity rooms during an outing at The Broad museum in Los Angeles, he was immediately captivated by the universe created by the Japanese artist’s mind-bending visuals. As the founder and CEO of CASETiFY, the global tech accessories brand known for their customizable phone cases and laptop sleeves that appeal to both millennial and Gen Z sensibilities, he understands that experience is paramount. So when the pandemic struck in early 2020, as other business owners were forgoing physical spaces as our world quickly went virtual, he chose to double down on bricks and mortar.
The newly opened CASETiFY Studio, which recently opened at the Landmark Atrium mall in Ng’s hometown of Hong Kong, is a veritable showcase of the brand’s experience-forward approach. He enlisted buzzy New York firm Crosby Studios for the interior, whose swooping walls coated in ombre shades of bold red, deep blue, and bright pink contrast with Corian white display tables to forge a UFO-like setting. Hidden inside, however, is the biggest surprise of all: CASETiFY’s very own infinity room, which offers customers an unforgettable (and Instagrammable) experience that changes periodically as an incentive to keep coming back. Below, the brand unpacks the space’s key details.
Inspiration: At its core, CASETiFY is a social brand. The iconic black-and-white logo has become instantly recognizable in Instagram selfies and paparazzi photos alike. With millions of followers around the world, CASETiFY has predominantly sold its accessories directly to consumers. Despite this, co-founder and CEO Wes Ng knew that offering customers a touchpoint would elevate CASETiFY from a company to a brand. “A lot of millennials and Gen Z are really into real-life experiences, so we wanted to create that” he says. “To let people meet us in real life, let people touch and feel our products, and know why we do what we do.”
During a Los Angeles team outing in 2018, Ng took his first trip to The Broad, which was featuring installations by Yayoi Kusama. Upon walking into Kusama’s infinity mirrored room, titled The Souls of Millions of Lightyears Away, he was amazed. The metal, glass, and LED combination gave him the feeling of awe and imagination reminiscent of spaceships depicted in old Hollywood cinema.
Fast forward a few years, and the world is stuck at home. Although CASETiFY’s DTC model has always been successful, Ng realized this was a prime opportunity to invest in real estate while traditional retailers were closing. With the aim to blend the brand’s physical and digital presence, Ng took the cyber-fantasy elements of Kusama’s installation and tapped New York City–based Crosby Studios to design CASETiFY’s first-ever retail location.
Blueprint: Located in Hong Kong, where Ng grew up, the Landmark Atrium is a mall known for its luxury flagships and “European” shopping experience. In the CASETiFY space, glass doors between two concrete pillars open to one wall that curves seamlessly around the space, giving Crosby Studios a blank, modern canvas for the project.
Founder Harry Nuriev started by taking CASETiFY’s color palette of bold red, deep blue, and bright pink, and creating color-blocked zones that flow into one another through a gradient of color. Crosby Studios also provided their own custom furnishings, including red velvet seating, and added illuminated Corian tables with built-in charging stations. Nuriev also hung phone cases throughout the space not only as decor, but as inspiration for shoppers looking to create their own customized case in just 15 minutes. “New retail is not just shelving but a strong and playful environment,” said Nuriev, “[a place] where people can not only shop, but drink a coffee or hang out.”
Uniqueness: Interactive elements organically integrated in the space are what make it the CASETiFY Studio. Aside from designing your own products or even charging up while chatting with friends, the CASETiFY Cube has drawn a crowd since day one.
Aiming to recreate his experience at Kusama’s installation, Ng tasked Nuriev with creating something fully immersive. Built as a closed infinity room, the CASETiFY Cube is a 360-degree digital installation that allows you to look at yourself in the context of current brand collaborations. The Cube reinvents itself with every collaboration, giving visitors a new experience every time.
CASETiFY’s mission from inception has always been to allow people to express themselves. The brand started with customization, expanded into hundreds of global collaborations, and culminated in the physical experience of the CASETiFY Studio, with many more to come across the globe.
Challenges: While CASETiFY exists as a global brand reaching customers in more than 100 countries, the traditional brick-and-mortar brings obvious physical limitations of who can interact and experience it. Deciding where and when to open a CASETiFY Studio location is always on Ng’s mind. When it came to the brand’s flagship, he stuck to his roots and opened in his hometown of Hong Kong. The flagship location served as an interesting test for the brand, reintroducing its products to consumers, convincing the public to leave the comfort of their homes and design a case on a store iPad. Still, Ng believes there’s an unparalleled reward to visiting CASETiFY Studio in-person versus online: the instant gratification of leaving the store with a new custom phone case in-hand.
Takeaways: CASETiFY remains on a mission to spread creativity and share the power of customization with the world. Venturing into retail provides its own set of risks and rewards, but as long as the brand’s DNA remains intact, the possibilities to create are endless.