Cadillac has certainly done a lot with the fashion and art worlds over the past year. Now it’s offering something nearly as addictive as fashion: caffeine. The latest idea, called Cadillac House, is a coffee shop/retail boutique with an art gallery twist and even a bespoke scent. Don’t laugh: These days you could use those words to describe most neighborhoods of Brooklyn.
The 12,000-square-foot space is located on the ground floor of the company’s New York office and will open to the public on June 2. And it goes far beyond what another big brand, Capital One, has done with its own café effort. Cadillac said it has been working on the multimillion-dollar project for the past 18 months.
It’s a potentially an awkward concept—the idea of drinking a cup of joe in anything even remotely like a car dealership is not a good look, and it’s definitely not even close to giving customers a sense of luxury. (Last year, Infiniti debuted its own unexpected pairing with MoFAD, the Museum of Food and Drink, to much less fanfare.)
But the point of this new space is not to sell cars. Thank goodness. You can go uptown for that. No, this time Caddy has convinced some well-respected fashion-y names to make it more of a destination: Visionaire, the creative firm and magazine, will curate an exhibit at Cadillac House each quarter; the fashion brand Timo Weiland will sell clothing in a pop-up shop; 12.29, which scented shows for Rodarte and Lady Gaga, is concocting a signature “Cadillac” fragrance for the room. New York’s Joe Coffee is providing the beans.
“We have tried to tell people what you’re supposed to feel from the Cadillac brand,” said Melody Lee, who is Cadillac's brand director. “But what we hadn’t quite fully established was an environment that you could walk into.”
On the phone yesterday in New York, Visionaire founder Cecilia Dean said she actually likes the idea of drinking coffee and looking at art in a Cadillac space. It’s unexpected and risky, so it just might work.
“We like to open people’s minds,” she told me. “With the public art installations we’ve been doing, we’ve made them very interactive and participatory.”
Dean is the one who invited Geoffrey Lillemon to be the first guest artist there. It’s a counter-intuitive choice to pair with such a staid (114-year-old) car company, since Amsterdam-based Lillemon was the mastermind behind Miley Cyrus’s and Beyonce’s hugely successful—and visually narcotic—world tours.
Then again, that could be just the bump Caddy needs.