Digital Kitchen builds worlds beyond belief


Part of the Sid Lee creative community since 2019, Digital Kitchen is a creative powerhouse with a knack for building otherworldly experiences. Such a knack, in fact, that it’s earned them several EMMYs


Head of Digital Experiences Ally Malloy sat down with us to chat about some of their coolest work.

Giving Toronto chills

The term experience does heavy lifting with DK, encompassing incredible end-to-end brand activations, physical events, virtual environments, digital storyworld extensions, and main titles.

A memorable project for Ally was a first-of-its-kind retail brand immersion Digital Kitchen designed for Canada Goose in Toronto’s CF Sherway Gardens mall in 2019. DK transformed the store into a full-body experience titled The Journey, a chance for customers (in an increasingly online world) to touch, feel and immerse themselves in the values of the brand and products. It welcomed shoppers in a dark room with high rock-textured walls towering over a narrow path made from lit panels that simulated cracked ice underfoot. Beyond that, four themed rooms—one of which was temperature controlled to a wintry chill, ideal for testing the famously warm coats—featured winter sights on enormous screens.

“We created an incredibly immersive environment—wrapping the entire store design in bespoke and original content,” recalls Ally. “Striking a balance between the seasons, we had the opportunity to explore and film the rainforests on Vancouver Island and take helicopters up to the glaciers in British Columbia—shooting some of the most spectacular scenery. All with the goal of transporting the shopper to places where they can feel part of the story and experience.”


Full digital mode

When Comic Con and E3 were cancelled in 2020, DC Comics and Warner Bros. tapped Digital Kitchen to create a virtual space for their socially distanced fans. DK met the challenge with The Joker’s Escape, a fully digital escape room filled with terror, laughter, and interactive games that lived online for 24 hours. The Joker’s Escape won a coveted Graphite Pencil at the D&AD awards and was FWA of the day in October 2020. You can see it for yourself here.

Ally sees three upsides to the cultivation of digital worlds: immediacy, scale, and flexibility. Virtual experiences allow for real-time communication between a brand and its community—an intimacy that could be lost in face-to-face interactions. The experiences can also be scaled exponentially; while only a few thousand people can attend Comic Con in person each year, infinite numbers can be part of it virtually. Lastly, they’re far more flexible, rich with opportunities for last-minute improvements or pivots that would be impossible IRL.


Grand openings

If you’ve ever been moved by a TV title sequence you’ll know what impact they can have. Title Sequences are created to capture the imagination of the viewer, to transport them from their couch and everyday distractions into the world of the story. And Digital Kitchen has produced sequences that have won them Emmys. 


Their main title sequence for the critically acclaimed show Godfather of Harlem was named Outstanding Main Title by the Academy of Arts & Television Sciences in 2020. They also received Emmy nominations for Outstanding Main Title Design in the past for their title sequences on Narcos, Nip/Tuck, and True Blood, with award wins for Dexter and Six Feet Under. Their work on Westworld for seasons 1 and 2 has also earned wins for Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media.


The secret to this type of work? Understanding the key themes of the show and building a visual story from there. It’s often the case that the shows are early in their development or the showrunners aren’t able to share too much yet, Ally explains. “Sometimes we’re able to watch the first few episodes of the show. Other times, we may only be able to get a glance at the script for the pilot. It can be a very organic process—working closely with the showrunners to interpret their vision for the story but also bringing our craft and artistry to condense it into 60 to 90 seconds.”


Then it’s off to the kitchen, where the team generates a handful of high level concepts. 

Creativity without borders

DK’s latest unveiling is The WB Abu Dhabi, Warner Bros.’ first hotel. In partnership with Miral, they invested 4 ½ years into the design and function of the hotel, armed with an incredible arsenal: Warner Bros.’ vast catalogue of character and story IP. The resulting end-to-end guest experience includes an incredible 80-plus minutes of original animation, sculptural pieces including the lobby’s living archive, branded restaurants and bars, among many other touchpoints. Like everything Digital Kitchen does, it’s more than the sum of its parts. This is not just a hotel. It’s an experience.

Capitalizing on its hospitality momentum, DK also had a hand in Resorts World in Las Vegas, the Strip’s new integrated resort. The project, GLOW, runs on Vegas’ famous LED surfaces, which include a 100,000 sq. ft Tower screen and a 50 ft interior globe. Guests are swept up in psychedelic journeys into space, illustrated excursions across the globe, and surreal motion-capture love stories told through dance, and more.

“We’re enormously lucky,” admits Ally. “Every project we work on feels special and gives us the opportunity to do what we love. We don’t take that for granted for a second.”

With a development slate that includes future projects that redefine what an immersive experience can be, we can’t wait to share what’s next.