Email permeates our lives, but how does its impact resonate beyond being a form of communication? Intuit Mailchimp and the Design Museum explore the cultural and emotional effects while contemplating its future in an immersive exhibit – Email is Dead. Open through October 22, 2023, visitors are invited to think about the look, feel, sound, and even the smell of email. Email is Dead leads us through the journey of the history of email, from its beginnings in the 1970s to what the experience might look like in 2070, prompting a wider conversation about the future of communication.

entry to an immersive exhibit with bright yellow walls

“Now feels like the optimal time to tell this story, because there’s been chatter about the death of email for over a decade. And every time there’s a new ‘thing,’ like SMS or social media, experts speculate on its extinction. And now, with the rapid expansion of AI, we found the chatter about the death of email to be even more relevant,” explains Intuit Mailchimp’s CMO Michelle Taite. “In fact, with the help of AI, our inboxes are becoming increasingly personalized, helping marketers create meaningful, long standing connections. In essence, email is becoming smarter than it’s ever been.”

a person observes the interior of an immersive exhibition

How does email shape our work lives, relationships, cultures, and economies? To try and answer these questions, Intuit Mailchimp’s in-house creative agency, Wink, worked with creative studio Something Special Studios. The goal was to capture and create a 360-degree view of the feelings and sensations email can evoke from us all.

all blue section of an immersive exhibit

To spearhead the “look of email,” Wink created an identity utilizing a bright yellow pixel pattern, iconography, and a typeface inspired by the first email ever sent in 1972 by Ray Tomlinson. The interactive displays within Email is Dead invite visitors to explore impact through activations, such as burying their own “email time capsule” or taking an email personality test to find out what kind of emailer they really are. Imaginary and playful solutions for real-life situations, such as an overflowing inbox or the impulse to fire off an emotion-filled email, are offered in the form of an Inbox Elixir (recipe included) and the Email Therapy Machine. The ever-present nature of email can then be brought home via a photo booth that “transports” the subject to random locations, then prints out a wish-you-were-here postcard.

inside the entry to an immersive exhibit with bright yellow walls

A bespoke soundtrack can be heard through the space, featuring synthesized compositions meant to depict email’s daily routine. The tracks meant to capture the “sound of email” carry visitors through an email’s journey from sender to recipient. Maybe somewhat surprisingly, guests will only occasionally hear the crescendo of familiar sounds: a swoosh, pop, ding, type, click, and send.

two people in a room with large white clouds and blue sky

What does email smell like exactly? Email is Dead is infused with an ‘Eau du Email’ scent, developed in collaboration with Something Special Studios and Tatiana Godoy Betancur to evoke clarity. Crafted from aromatic plants, like bergamot, geranium, sage, lavender, and sandalwood, these scent notes are known to help promote a balanced nervous system. The scent is designed to replicate a “type of lucidity and sense of connection that email can generate as a whole.”

two people in a room with large white clouds and blue sky

To complete your experience at Email is Dead, there’s merchandise that captures iconic phrases such as “kind regards” and “hope this finds you well.” There are branded baseball hats, t-shirts, drinkware, tote bags, A5 notebooks, pens, A3 posters, enamel pins, key rings, and more. It’s all available for purchase in the Design Museum gift shop and on the site.

person exploring a room with large white clouds and blue sky

room with large white clouds and blue sky

all blue section of an immersive exhibit with monitors

entry to an immersive exhibit with bright yellow walls and an illuminated doorway

white baseball hat reading Kind Regards

side-by-side images with white t-shirt reading Sincerely and the back of the shirt with a neon yellow checkerboard graphic

black notecards and pen reading not emails

side-by-side images with tote bag reading Junk Folder and the back of the tote with a neon yellow checkerboard graphic

To learn more about the Email is Dead immersive exhibit to plan a visit, click through to

Kelly Beall is Director of Branded Content at Design Milk. The Pittsburgh-based writer and designer has had a deep love of art and design for as long as she can remember, from Fashion Plates to MoMA and far beyond. When not searching out the visual arts, she’s likely sharing her favorite finds with others. Kelly can also be found tracking down new music, teaching herself to play the ukulele, or on the couch with her three pets – Bebe, Rainey, and Remy. Find her @designcrush on social.

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