Who is Digital Kitchen?

DK_resort_world

There’s no straight answer—but the road to one has stellar views.

We sat down with Digital Kitchen’s Head of Creative, Ally Malloy, to discuss their
hand in crafting consumer adventures, digital experiences, and producing Emmy-
award winning title sequences.

In 1995, Digital Kitchen (DK) launched as a marketing company. But when asked how it differentiates from traditional marketing today, Ally thinks it’s eons away. “Agency isn’t really in our vocabulary at all,” he thinks aloud, pausing for a moment. “Agencies are typically involved in a specific part of a long process, whereas we see things through from start to finish. We have a small strategy team for the planning stages, but, without wanting to sound too highbrow, we’re more about the craft and design of things. Really crafting experiences, whether that be a main site or a giant hotel in the middle of the desert on the other side of the world.”

Worlds. Beyond. Belief.

The term experience does heavy lifting with DK, encompassing physical events, VR scopes, digital platforms, apps, even main titles.

One such experience took place in 2019 when Digital Kitchen designed a first-of-its-kind retail event for Canada Goose in Toronto’s CF Sherway Gardens mall. The team transformed the store into a hybrid of an art gallery and science experiment, titled The Journey. When entering the space, shoppers were immediately enveloped by sky-high black walls and led through a thin line of OLED panels that simulate cracked ice. They could then explore four themed rooms of dizzying winter sights on enormous screens, one of which was temperature-controlled to a chilling -12 degrees Celsius.

It was a favourite of Ally’s. “We were able to wrap it with loads of bespoke filmed content,” he recalls, “in Vancouver, we’d take helicopters up glaciers and shoot for hours. The result was, and I hate using this word, but it’s true, it was incredibly immersive. You could stand in the room and feel that you were there.”

This is, of course, the greatest advantage to running projects from start to finish. It’s a degree of control that most creatives can only dream of

North_Face

Crossing the digital threshold

When Comic Con and E3 were cancelled in 2020, DC Comics and Warner Bros tapped Digital Kitchen to create a digital experience for the socially distant fans. To heed the call, DK devised The Joker’s Escape, a 3D escape room filled with terror, laughter, and interactive games that lived online for 24 hours. It wasn’t exactly a complete pivot for DK, who have been designing hybrid virtual experiences for years, but it was the first entirely virtual experience they produced. The Joker’s Escape won a coveted Graphite Pencil at the D&AD awards.

Of course, most of us are partial to in-person experiences. But Ally sees three upsides to the cultivation of digital worlds: immediacy, scale, and flexibility. Virtual experiences enable the brand or platform to respond in real-time to an enormous number of phenomena that could be lost face to face. The experiences can also be scaled exponentially; only a few thousand people per year could experience Comic Con, but those who could enter a virtual experience are infinite. Lastly, they’re far more flexible, laden with opportunities for last minute changes or edits for the user that would be impossible in an event space.

jokers_escape_2
jokers_escape_1

The death of skip intro

Like art, media shifts and evolves in strange directions. Few could have predicted the gravitas of the modern TV title sequence. But here we are—chilled to the bone by the piano of Nicholas Britell’s Succession intro, marked by Mad Men’s enigmatic strings and falling men.

Digital Kitchen is no stranger to the hype. In fact, they’re leading it. This year, their sequence for the critically acclaimed Godfather of Harlem was awarded an Emmy. They’ve created Main Titles for Narcos, Dexter, Helstrom, True Blood, and many more. We had to ask; what exactly goes into this type of work?

GOH_2
GOH_1

For one, there’s hardly ever a comprehensive brief. It’s more about chemistry, Ally explains. “It’s very organic, because the showrunners know that we have the tools to do it. It becomes more a matter of if we’re able to interpret their vision for the story and condense it in an artful way. Sometimes we’ve been able to watch the first 5, 6 episodes of the show, but other times we’re only given a page summary and that’s where we need to jump from.”

From there, the team will generate 4-5 high-level concepts with the showrunners. Then it’s off to the kitchen.

Where's DK Now?

Hitting its stride, Ally contends.

“Over the last 4-5 years we’ve really sharpened our focus. It’s moved from just what we’re good at to what we enjoy doing. We don’t want our work to be too
prescriptive, so we’re purposefully not going out and saying what we do. As long as the work hits our goal—to create worlds beyond belief—then we’re game. That lens really gives us the power to flex our creative muscles and push the edge.”


DK’s latest unveiling is the WB Abu Dhabi, Warner Bro’s first hotel. In partnership with Miral, they invested 4.5 years into the design and function of the hotel, armed with an incredible arsenal: Warner Bro’s IP. Their work includes the lobby’s Living Archive, a display that cycles through artifacts and props from WB’s history, 200+ pieces of artwork on themed floors, a Modernist Folk rooftop bar that overlooks downtown Abu Dhabi, and countless other projects. Like everything DK touches, it’s not just a hotel. It’s an experience. Ally has high hopes for the future of Digital Kitchen and its current team. “Were incredibly lucky. We don’t work on anything boring. I don’t take that for granted for a second."

Warner_Bros_DK
Warner Bros_2