The man in the red hat is back.
For those who made it to 326 Bleecker St. earlier in the year, you might see some familiar faces back at the Whalebone shop. The man in the red hat has been spotted perfectly straightening books on the shelves as Dexter greeted guests. The AWA crew is back at 326 Bleecker St. until October 25th, popping-up for the release of their new book Accidentally Wes Anderson The Book. So far, 1,500 excited Adventures lined up to grab a book, exclusive merch, and to send a postcard to anywhere in the world. We sat down with Wally Koval, author of the book and curator of all things accidentally and sometimes on purpose in the Wes Anderson aesthetic, to talk about the shop, book, and what adventure is next on the list.
For those that don’t know, what is AWA?
Wally: Accidentally Wes Anderson is the exploration of the intersection of distinctive design & unexpected narratives. We started on Instagram a few years ago exploring locations that looked like they could be in a Wes Anderson film, but we went beyond the aesthetic and started diving into the stories behind the facade—historical, architectural, human interest—stories that you would never know if you had just walked by the building on the street or the lighthouse on the beach. Over the past 3 years, we have cultivated a Community (always capital “C”) of more than 1 Million Adventurers who are interested in uncovering the unique and interesting in the typically commonplace, and have been lucky to provide some overwhelming positivity and substance in a time & place that both of those have been somewhat lacking.
We are fans of fine printed things if you don’t know that already. Why a book and what can we expect inside this finely printed book?
Wally: Well, it was not far into our journey that we realized the digital realm was not doing justice to these incredible photographs we were sharing, nor was it allowing us to really dive deep into the stories they had to tell. So over the past 2.5 years, we worked together with 180 photographers from 50 different countries to share the stories of 200+ locations from each & every continent—including Antarctica—and the (actual) Wes Anderson provided his perfect stamp of approval by penning the foreword for us. It could not be more perfect.
It is such an incredible thing to see 1000s of notes going from this little pop-up and literally reaching every corner of the globe
With a new book and a pop-up shop to go with it, you guys flipped the AWA experience from Instagram to in-real-life. What was the thought process behind creating something physical in a now very digital and socially-distance world?
Wally: It is kind of funny that the pop-up shop is the exact opposite of what we do on a daily basis—fully analog—but it is what we truly love. We connect every day with the Community via comments & DMs, but the ability for us to see their excitement first hand is so special.
Just as AWA is a real-life extension of the fantastical worlds that Wes Anderson has created, our book is the real-life embodiment of the last three years and the evolution of this Community.
Instead of scrolling on their phone, we have created a world of cotton ball clouds and poster-board mountains to emulate the cover of our book—complete with a professionally built model of the Hotel Belvedere. We are inviting Adventurers to come in, write a postcard to someone they love and we are sending them off for them—anywhere in the world. It is such an incredible thing to see 1000s of notes going from this little pop-up and literally reaching every corner of the globe—Alaska & Hawaii to Japan & New Zealand, Lebanon & South Africa and beyond.
What can adventurers expect from AWA next?
Wally: Well, we have (very quietly) released a new version of our website just last week. Our hope is that Adventurers will be able to utilize it now as a ‘Searchable AWA Database’ to help them find their next adventure, while also being able to share so many more of the 3000+ photos that are submitted through the site every day!