Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Experiential Designer, Mixed-Media Producer and Conceptualist Eddie Sotto to speak at Disneyana Fan Club's July 2011 DisneyanaMania Convention
Eddie Sotto is an American experiential designer, mixed-media producer, and conceptualist. He is president of the Los Angeles design firm, SottoStudios (link), which specializes in development of products, brands, and places in atypical, imaginative ways. Sotto has been described "by popular consensus in Hollywood...(as) the most creative person on the planet." (1)
Growing up in Southern California, Sotto was fascinated by Disneyland and built a 1/200 scale model of the park based on plans he obtained from WED Enterprises. At 19, he acted upon a suggestion to pursue his modelmaking and storyboarding talents, and was hired as Assistant Project Director at Knott's Berry Farm, where he designed the Soapbox Racer attraction, as well as contributing to elements of Camp Snoopy
In 1983, Sotto moved to a position as Show Designer for Hollywood-based Landmark Entertainment Group. (2) During his tenure, he designed and developed themed attractions for Universal Studios and Six Flags, (Baltimore's "Laboratory of Scientific Wonders") designs for Mattel Toys, and art direction for a music video.
"Scientific Wonders" caught the attention of Tony Baxter, VP of design at Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI), who hired Sotto as Show Producer/Designer for Main Street USA at Euro Disneyland. His Disney mentors included veteran Imagineers Herbert Ryman (link) and John Hench (link). The eventual Senior VP of Concept design, Sotto spent 13 years with WDI, involved in early development of the Indiana Jones Adventure, and directing the master planning of Tokyo Disneyland for 3 years. It was his proposal to include a hotel in Euro Disneyland that led to accommodations becoming integral to Disney Parks. (3)
His "think tank,'" Concept Development Studio, applied principles of Imagineering outside the theme park setting, culminating in such projects as the Mission: Space attraction at EPCOT; the "Media as Architecture" facade of ABC's Times Square Studios; the $90m "Pooh's Hunny Hunt" ride at Tokyo Disneyland; and design of the futuristic Encounter Restaurant in the Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport.
- 1999: Executive VP of Creative Affairs, Digital Entertainment Network. DEN created "original youth culture programming and e-commerce opportunities...for Generation Y consumers." (4) Clients included Ford, Dell, Blockbuster, Pepsi. (5)
- 2000: Chief Creative Officer, Progress City. Its mission was to explore the convergence of the Internet, architecture, and wireless devices.(6) Projects included "media sculptures" for Hollywood's Kodak Theatre and convergence solutions for clients such as Paramount Studios, NASA, and The Walt Disney Company.
Founded in 2004, SottoStudios' mandate is stated as "seeing the impossible as a beautiful puzzle, and then bringing in the right combination of people to crack the code."(7) Its slate of clients has featured:
- Applying "experiential design" to the Las Vegas Penske/Wynn - Ferrari/Maserati dealership.
- Designing a James Bond-inspired Aston Martin showroom for Los Angeles' Galpin /Aston Martin dealership (link)
- Producing television series for VH1 networks (8)
- Creating a news format utilizing the Google search engine for Current TV.
Other projects have included building a film history-themed pop-up store for Turner Classic Movies; and partnering with chef John Sedlar at Los Angeles' Rivera (link), contributing architectural, thematic, and design elements extending to intricate custom tequila bottles. SottoStudios also accepts residential commissions, which have been described as "very exclusive...some even more themed than Disney." (9)