Today's audiences want "immersive brand experiences", yet most architects and ad agencies were not founded to do so. Why? Experiences are multi-sensory and need a different process. To connect emotionally, you consider everything the customer takes in, from the music they hear, to the textures they touch, to the colors they see, all of it matters and can be tuned harmoniously if created holistically. Eddie Sotto saw that brands desperately need a holistic design environment that brings everything together to not just solve functionally, but also emotionally, a winning practice he mastered in the creation of Disney parks. That's why they are so addictive. The biggest risk for a client in entertainment design is not that they won’t come once, it’s that they don't feel the need to come back. Nothing "pencils" on one visit. We design to addict an audience in a deeply emotive way. To us, form still follows function, but to succeed long term, form should also follow feeling.
To that end, we design to hedge your creative bet and deliver repeatable results. As they say- "No one goes home whistling the architecture."
SottoStudios/LA, established in 2004 by Eddie Sotto, former Senior Vice President of Concept Design at Disney Imagineering to practice this holistic method of design, long before the current “experiential” bandwagon hit the road. Since then, SSLA has been involved creating immersive experiences showcasing the world’s most presitigious brands. Ferrari, Porsche, Aston-Martin, Paramount Pictures, Microsoft, Google, Disney, Universal, Wynn Resorts, Irvine Company and more have allowed us to reimagine and elevate their brand experience. Can we discuss yours?
We believe that you as a client should have a “dream team” of experts hand chosen to fit your needs exactly. Our diverse projects beg for specialists as they range from the 10,000 Year Clock to innovating “augmented reality”, or designing a entire theme park. A few experts with the right experience yields better results than a floor of interns learning on your dime. 21st Century technology allows us to collaborate globally, working on digital design tablets that often share a single document. We meet in person often, yet only when it is called for. More companies are adopting this efficient process, one we’ve mastered more than ten years ago.
We don’t think that the quality of the talent on your project should be determined by who lives closest to our office. These projects are hard, expensive and deserve the right answer without the learning curve. Eddie’s reputation as a visionary organically attracts top talent, so we contract the best, even if its in London, Cupertino, New York, Sienna, or Cucamonga. Wherever the best is, we find a way work together. We locally manage all of our projects strictly in a very hands-on, heavily tracked, management style.
Experiential marketing is based on physicality, amounting to more than architecture or pop-up displays. Immersion is achieved when all the visual and sensory cues align to place you in an alternate reality, but without all the disciplines working toward a common theme, it does not come together. To realize this, there was a need to invent an audit process that went beyond one discipline, gathering the strengths and weaknesses of lighting, audio, scent, design, and more. We call it “Design Sensing.” We create an audit report of where the elements fall short and what could be done to bring them into alignment with the them or concept.
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 our senses to convince, so we see all of these elements as a holistic System to be tuned toward an emotional result. They all tell a story as part of a tuned system because we experience life in real time and form a collective emotional reaction. In a new situation where we are working from the ground up, we “score” spaces with each sensory element as an “instrument” in a branded symphony. Sottostudios is comprised of a winning team of specialists that focus on the goal, creating compelling experiences. Places you'd return to.
Imagine how we can simply elevate your brand or project by simply auditing what’s already there, then tuning the system of experience to a higher level.
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 areas, from innovation and marketing, to design sensing and strategy.
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 in addition to producing and designing attractions, he ran his own concept development studio. Exporting his skills beyond the mouse, in 1999, Sotto branched into creating for Television, Restaurant, Hotel and UHNW residential interiors, even into spacecraft and private aviation, where the Studio won a recent IYAA award for best concept design. Sotto's attractions design training is mostly self taught learning from Disney legend Tony Baxter and his Imagineering mentors, the original artists that worked for Walt. Hollywood's production designers influenced Sotto's work as his style has often been called "cinematic." The film industry runs in his family as well with his Aunt, Marilyn Sotto being a noted Costume illustrator/designer for Edith Head at Universal, Paramount, and eventually as lead park costumer at Walt Disney World, Sotto's grandfather being a portrait and scenic artist at MGM completes the picture.
October 2018 brought Eddie to Bermuda as part of TEDX Conference to condense his experiential design process into a fascinating 18 minute presentation.
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"
Disneyland Paris Main Street USA is an immersive world of it's own where Sotto served as both Producer and Executive Designer.
In his 13 year career at Walt Disney Imagineering, 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.". As Senior VP of Concept Design, 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
ABC Times Square Studios, New York City
Encounter Restaurant at Los Angeles International Airport
Interactive Ride Technologies- Enhanced Reality Coaster. Trackless rides
Convergence design- Persistent Online/Real Worlds
Wearable interactive devices
Product design. Sketch Artisan watch
Master Planning Attraction Proposals
Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye Concept Design
Main Street, U.S.A. Renovation
Storybook Land Canal Boats Enhancements
Main Street, USA Audio Enhancements
Space Mountain Onboard Audio Enhancements
Mission: SPACE Conceptual Design
World Showcase Proposals
Pal Mickey Interactive Toy
Videopolis Dance Club
Sci-Fi City and New Fantasyland Master Planning
Disney Resort Line Monorail Station
World Bazaar Interior Designs
"Bon Voyage" Disney retail flagship store