SottoStudios/LA, established in 2004, is an award-winning experiential design and brand studio that is frequently tapped to invent or revitalize products as immersive experiences.
Experiential marketing based on a physical and emotional interaction is often left in the hands of agencies or architects, yet experiences are more than architecture or slogans and frankly, no matter what they claim, their experience is limited. Immersion is achieved when all the visual and sensory cues align to place you in an alternate reality, but without all the disciples working toward a common emotion, it doe not come together. To realize this, there was a need to form a studio that went beyond one discipline and bring all the senses together to a greater result. We are truly designers of emotional systems, or as we call it, "systems of story". Senior Disney "Imagineer" Edward Sotto, saw the need to break down those formal barriers of architecture, marketing, and design by combining them in a single holistic process that delivers seamless, harmonies experiences, thus SottoStudios was formed.
The practice of emotion driven design was something Sotto learned by observing the original Disney artists and set designers that he worked with. As in set design, continuity was the essence of suspending disbelief. In the real world we have all of the senses to convince, so why stop at the building? Isn't the music and aroma just as important? Sottostudios is comprised of a winning team of specialists that focus on delivering immersive, compelling experiences. Places you'd return to. We are a high focus, boutique firm that only takes on select assignments that we see as "hard fun."
Our client base is varied and although you see a heavy Disney presence due to our experience, our work strays far from theme parks into many innovative areas, from innovation and marketing, to design thinking and strategy.
Translate "Sotto" from Italian and you'll find it means "beneath" or "under", and that's where our process begins. Everything we do, be it a logo or a loggia, is built on understanding the story and the wise use of detail to evoke an emotion. We start below the surface with a feeling and build on the compelling qualities that resonate with the audience and design from there. We "channel" our clients with research to really experience the thing we're developing from the inside out. We start with "wow" and work backwards from that first impression. We may start with research, then ideate and develop concepts that end up as mock-ups to test feasibility. We believe in bringing the best minds together from marketing and product design to collaborate in building brands that are seamlessly messaged and developed. It's that yen for experiential harmony that drives us. Those "systems of story." We can think it, strategize it, market it, even prototype and finally build it. This process of solving can be applied to the many disciplines you see listed, and if you'd like to know more about our services, CLICK HERE.
Born in Hollywood, Sotto's cinematic style is largely self taught by having motion picture Production Designers and Disney's original artists as his mentors. Theatrical design runs in the family as well, with his grandfather being a scenic and portrait artist at MGM and his Aunt Marilyn Sotto, a Costume Illustrator/Designer at Paramount and Universal, eventually landing with Eddie at Disney to design costumes there. Sotto's obsession with experiential design thrives on creative continuity and detail, be it emotional or architectural, to make each project unique.
Eddie is a Renaissance creative professional and entrepreneur with a proven track record in entertainment design that spans 30 years. Sotto's strength lies both in ideation and team based execution, skills he honed as Senior Vice President of Concept Design at Disney's Imagineering division, where he ran his own concept development studio. Exporting his skills beyond the mouse, Sotto branched into creating for Television, Restaurant, Hotel and UHNW residential interiors, even into Spacecraft and private aviation, where he has won a recent IYAA award for best concept design.
Listed in the book "Who's really Who. The 1000 most creative people in America".
- TED Founder, Richard Saul Wurman
"Eddie's passion for new ideas and one-of-a-kind Adventures was a creative leader's dream."
- Imagineering President Marty Sklar, - "Dream it! Do it!".
"Wildly imaginative Imagineer."
- Disney CEO Michael Eisner - "Work in Progress"
Sotto's insights led to being "most quoted," with more than 400 separate entries in the encyclopedic Bible of the industry. "Theme Parks and the Art of Themed Entertainment"
"We enjoy what we do. Our passion comes from the process of designing bespoke projects that speak through their detail and story, as opposed to the braggadocio of cost or finish. Our goal is to create something authentic that evokes a deeply satisfying emotion as opposed to being a trophy of means. Trophy shelves are never full. Ancient wisdom describes this as "chasing the wind," so designing something timeless that rewards beyond the thrill of being new is our goal. We find great satisfaction in challenging ourselves through hard work and in knowing that there is a sincere appreciation from our clients for our attention to detail. The products should stand alone as something that emotionally rewards you from a genuine place. Close inspection brings a smile. Our best bespoke work so far exists in secret and will likely remain that way because the clients love it for what it is. That is our highest compliment. The Skyacht One and Regatta were not imagined for a target audience, but because they would be interesting to design, even if never purchased."
Thirteen of his thirty years in entertainment design were spent at Walt Disney Imagineering. Reaching the role of Senior Vice President, Concept Design, Sotto managed to execute a half billion dollars of projects along the way, including Main Street USA at Disneyland Paris, led the early creative development of the Indiana Jones Adventure, and directed the design of Tokyo Disneyland that planned new lands and created attractions including the game changing trackless ride, "Pooh's Hunny Hunt.". Eddie also has the distinction of running his own "think tank" within Disney called the Concept Development Studio. There they “pushed the envelope” by developing smart wireless toys, augmented reality coasters, online worlds, and resort concepts. Back in the 1990s! Other projects Eddie's studio created include the breakthrough “Mission:Space” Attraction for EPCOT Center, the “media as architecture” facade of ABC's Times Square Studios, and the award winning “Encounter” Restaurant at the Los Angeles International Airport.
It's also worth noting that after Sotto quit Imagineering, Disney continues to tap SottoStudios to develop projects in marketing, interactive technology, and resorts. We value the continuing business relationship we have with the Walt Disney Company and Imagineering.
Show Producer, Vice President Executive Designer, Executive Show Director, Senior Vice President Concept Design