Co.Design

Genius Marketing: Blu Dot Will Swap Sofas for Your Crafts & Kooky Ideas

Somebody get us a pair of knitting needles!

If you have a gift for knitting sock-monkey chairs or playing air guitar or collecting sporks, then boy are you in luck! Through March 11, the Minnesota-based contemporary design company Blu Dot is giving away furniture through its website in exchange for all sorts of hipstery creative projects.

The Blu Dot Swap Meet is an online auction "geared at creative types who love modern design, but may not be able to afford modern furniture," the press release says. How it works: You select the Blu Dot furniture you want (a chair, a desk, bookshelves, a lamp, a bed, a sofa, etc.). Then you upload your creative offering to the swamp meet site here, where pretty much anything goes. Bids thus far include a custom-knit deer head trophy, art made out of mold, and a drug-free urine sample.

[Har Mar Superstar's promoting this thing!?! Love the guy, but *retch.*]

The public can vote on the projects. Ultimately, though, Blu Dot decides what's worthy of a trade. The criteria? "If it's interesting and we like it and we think the swap that is proposed is a fair one, we'll accept it," Blu Dot CEO John Christakos tells Co.Design. Blu Dot's judges have already approved bids for everything from a Texas barbecue for 60 people (to be held at Blu Dot's Soho store) to a life-sized sculpture of a motorcycle made out of 9,000 Popsicle sticks. Apparently, they liked the spork collection, too.

The Swap Meet is a follow-up to a gonzo marketing campaign Blu Dot launched in 2009, in which the company dropped free GPS-enabled chairs on curbs around New York to see where they'd end up (and, presumably to get loads of media attention, which they did).

Christakos on the genesis of the latest campaign: It "came from a Blu Dot fan in Austin, Texas, who offered to trade a performance of Prince's song, 'Dirty Minds,' in exchange for a chair," he says. "Also, early in our history, we traded for everything we could. Our logo was designed in exchange for us designing and building a custom tree-house. And, while our goal is to make design more democratic, as hard as we try, we realize that not everyone can afford our stuff. So we thought this was the perfect way to get Blu Dot into the hands of people who want it, and in the process, unleash the creativity of the Blu Dot community."

It's also a clever business strategy, though Christakos says that's not the point. Giving away free stuff is an obvious way to spread your brand. And while spreading your brand to a bunch of broke, crafty hipsters might not make tons of sense for a mid- to high-end furniture company, it's actually incredibly valuable. After all, today's hipster could be tomorrow's corporate lawyer, and that's the sort of person who'll have no trouble springing for a $3,000 couch.

[Images courtesy of Blu Dot]

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