Furniture off the Streets of New York – The Blu Dot Chair Experiment
New York City is the only city I’ve lived in where the garbage is just put right on the street. When I lived in San Francisco, the garbage men pulled the discreet truck in and carted away our cast offs. In DC, the basement was neatly organized with the weeks’ waste which was conveniently hauled off every Tuesday. But in New York, there’s no hiding. The dump that is the sidewalk outside my crowded apartment building bi-weekly becomes a seething bevy of unwanted garbage, paper, plastic, and sometimes…..FURNITURE.
Okay, I must admit I have picked up a couple of street gems since I moved here 8.5 years ago…And my amazing, perfect, mid-century Danish dresser was rescued from the basement of a 54th street apartment building….but I’ve often wondered about other New Yorkers who furnish their homes with street-trash finds…
So I had to share the latest marketing stint from Blu Dot–
What would you do if you saw this chair abandoned on the sidewalk? Keep walking? Or take it?’
It’s a question many New Yorkers pondered in a few weeks ago when 25 brand-new $129 Blu Dot chairs were dispersed throughout NYC. The company did the experiment to celebrate the year anniversary of their SoHo store. They thought, “What would happen if we left a bunch of Real Good Chairs all over New York, free for the taking? Who will grab them? Where will they go? How will they get there? What will their new homes look like?”
To answer these questions, they embedded GPS tracking devices on the chair and set up hidden cameras around each drop-off location. Then they waited and watched.
In one Brooklyn neighborhood, the chair lasted a mere ten seconds. But surprisingly in other areas, many people walked by without giving the chair a second thought. Others stopped and inspected it, but continued on their way. In Chinatown, the chair sat there for an hour and a half.
The chairs eventually went to 25 different homes and Blu Dot followed up with each new owner to find out what happened for their mini documentary. I laughed my way through the eight-minute video, admittedly embarrassed recalling the many times I’ve pondered such a heist – “is it a real Eames?” “OK, it’s Knoll, so would it be worth it to reupholster?”. It’s he best PR stunt I’ve seen in years; and one I’m sure every New Yorker can relate to!
Watch the experiment: