“Whimsical, fun, disarming.” This immersive spa experience is the luxury escape you’ve been looking for.
The venue feels like some sort of secret given its only marking is a small sign hanging in front of a discrete set of stairs that lead to an expansive 4000 square foot basement. Dimly lit with soft, colored lights and filled with swinging hammock chairs and fuzzy couches, the mood is cozy and intimate; happily dark to resist an urge for selfies and encourage a feeling of presence. Docents keep at a whisper while gently instructing guests to remove their shoes and don plush robes before serving mint green tea and offering VR demos.
“It’s rare to have this much space to play with,” comments David Lobser, one half of the Luxury Escapism founders and Head of Virtual Reality and Creative Technology for the so-called digital spa. “We wanted to create an exploratory environment filled with all sorts of surprises for our guests.”
“We searched for a space for a long time,” adds Tyler Pridgen, Lobser’s business partner and Luxury Escapism’s Director of Experience. “In our research we found a lot of tech-focused spaces felt cold or too produced and not all that accessible. We tried to create one that made guests feel like they were at a friend’s house trying out their coolest tech. We wanted guests to feel comfortable and safe and were definitely inspired by queer and DIY spaces where you can be yourself.”
This curiously refreshing experience tingles multiple senses with featured works by almost 20 artists (see below) and a variety of emerging technologies. Innovations include meditative mixed reality, mesmerizing motion sensors, captivating strobes, bioacoustic harmonics, binaural and isochronic feedback loops, organic ASMR-inspired sound baths, and more immersive installations all designed for the most hypnotic and calming of future spa-like encounters.
“I was first inspired to create an experience like this when I was working in VR as a producer,” Pridgen explains. “I realized I could put all these oddly satisfying things together outside of the institutional art model or an entertainment network. The idea for this really came from addressing digital anxiety and accessing art from the Internet.”
“Tyler had the overall vision for the spa and knew what art direction he wanted to go in,” chimes in Lobser, creator of Cosmic Sugar, one of his VR pieces on display. “I brought a lot of experiences and ideas to The Oddly Satisfying Spa because I love the satisfying animation trend circulating online right now. All the projects here are a labor of love and experiences I want to see exist in the world. We wanted to show a lot of different artists’ work, too [that revolve around similar themes].”
“We’re curating a space that pushes as much relaxation as possible,” says Ed Fernandez, the spa’s manager and motion graphics designer. “[Guests] don’t know what they’re going to get when they come here, but once they settle in there’s this breath that occurs and they realize they can [slow down] and relax.”
The experience is certainly a novel one and a contrast to the constantly increasing pace of New York City life. “It’s not just the two of us doing everything on our own.” shares Lobser. “We’ve been in the city for a long time and there are people around who are giving advice, support, energy, time and love to this, too. It validates that we’re on the right track.”
Guests can book tickets online for two-hour sessions Thursday through Sunday, and if you’re worried about not being able to try everything at The Oddly Satisfying Spa, fear not; only 20 people are allowed in per session. The Luxury Escapism team designed the space so that there is always something to do, be it playing with kinetic sand or creating a light show of your very own with docents on-hand to help every step of the way.
The Oddly Satisfying Spa includes artworks by numerous collaborators including Matt McCorkle, Tomaz Capobianco, Rachel Etheredge, Joy Lab, Angel Favorite, Brooke Van Hensbergen, Dib Korma, Wienna Lin, Steven Baltay, Mark Parris, Sierra Siemer, Sandtagious, Oscar Pettersson, Mate Steinforth, and Pure Immanence.
Luxury Escapism has an open creator call to be featured as a collaborator. If you are interested in contributing work, please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image Credit: Luis Nieto Dickens, Luxury Escapsim