In the twenty-first century, we must learn to look at cities not as skylines but as brandscapes, and at buildings not as objects but as advertisements and destinations. In the experience economy, experience itself has become the product: we're no longer consuming objects but sensations, even lifestyles. In the new environment of brandscapes, buildings are not about where we work and live but who we imagine ourselves to be. In Brandscapes, Anna Klingmann looks critically at the controversial practice of branding by examining its benefits, and considering the damage it may do.
Klingmann argues that architecture can use the concepts and methods of branding—not as a quick-and-easy selling tool for architects but as a strategic tool for economic and cultural transformation. Branding in architecture means the expression of identity, whether of an enterprise or a city; New York, Bilbao, and Shanghai have used architecture to enhance their images, generate economic growth, and elevate their positions in the global village. Klingmann looks at different kinds of brandscaping today, from Disneyland, Las Vegas, and Times Square—prototypes and case studies in branding—to Prada's superstar-architect-designed shopping epicenters and the banalities of Niketown.
But beyond outlining the status quo, Klingmann also alerts us to the dangers of brandscapes. By favoring the creation of signature buildings over more comprehensive urban interventions and by severing their identity from the complexity of the social fabric, Klingmann argues, today's brandscapes have, in many cases, resulted in a culture of the copy. As experiences become more and more commodified, and the global landscape progressively more homogenized, it falls to architects to infuse an ever more aseptic landscape with meaningful transformations.
How can architects use branding as a means to differentiate places from the inside out—and not, as current development practices seem to dictate, from the outside in? When architecture brings together ecology, economics, and social well-being to help people and places regain self-sufficiency, writes Klingmann, it can be a catalyst for cultural and economic transformation.
About the Author
Anna Klingmann, an architect and critic, is the founder and principal of KL!NGMANN, an agency for architecture and brand building in New York. Her work has been published in AD Magazine, Daidalos, Architectural Record, Architecture d'Aujourd'hui, and other periodicals.
"As Anna Klingmann shows in this well-researched, and well-written book, brand and experience management are at the forefront of contemporary architectural theory and practice. Indeed, viewing buildings and architects as brands that provide experiences can provide a new and fresh perspective for the entire field of architecture. This insightful book provides a much-needed critical perspective on this emerging trend."
—Bernd Schmitt, author, Experiential Marketing and Customer Experience Management
"Brandscapes is the first architecture book that takes the Experience Economy as its premise to show architects—and by extension designers, engineers, and indeed all experience stagers—how to create places that are authentic, meaningful, and engaging. If placemaking means anything to you, read Anna Klingman's far-reaching book and apply its path-breaking principles."—B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore, coauthors, The Experience Economy and Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want
"In the endlessly recombinant formats spawned by globalization, the meaningof architecture is forced to negotiate a slippery territory betweenidentity, representation, and branding. With a rigorously jaundiced eye,Anna Klingmann unpacks this new place, offering a fascinating tour of bothits perils and its possibilities."
"Brandscapes bravely argues for a public architecture to re-create delight, challenging designers to bring together the wow factor of consumer culture and people's desire to belong. Klingmann makes us realize that good architecture can be both commercial and thematicand forces us to rethink the legacy of modernism for an unstable age."
—Sharon Zukin, author, The Cultures of Cities
"Heir to the heraldry of ancient kingdoms, today's experience economiesattempt to link the caprice of themed environments with thoroughlyrationalized market strategies. As various strata of space making becomeincreasingly reliant on psychic signaling as symbolic capital, thearchitecture profession indulges in another of its perennial crises aboutauthenticity and meaning that never existed. Klingmann's Brandscapes allowsus to eavesdrop on this soul-searching, but she also whispers, in aside,'Where's the tragedy?' Indeed, she argues that commodified desire may onlygive designers more precise and penetrating control over business plans andurban politics now under the affable spell of brand longing."
—Keller Easterling, Associate Professor, Yale University School ofArchitecture