Blade co-founders Paul Schwenk, Bill O'Donnell, and Paul English, all of whom previously worked together at Kayak, Intuit, and Interleaf.
Blade co-founders Paul Schwenk, Bill O'Donnell, and Paul English, all of whom previously worked together at Kayak, Intuit, and Interleaf.

The big opening party for Paul English’s Blade Network startup space is tomorrow night, and when I dropped by on Monday morning, construction crews were scrambling to get everything finished. English, the co-founder and former chief technology officer at Kayak, wants it to become a supercollider for consumer tech, art, and music in Boston. And in terms of designing a dazzling environment, he’s definitely aiming high.

Blade has a pool of more than $20 million to invest in creating two to three startups each year, English tells me. The bulk of that money comes from Accel Partners and General Catalyst, who did quite well by backing Kayak. And there are already two student-focused startups that Blade plans to launch by August, though English wasn’t ready to share specifics or company names. (I wrote earlier this month about the team that English and his co-founders have put together at Blade.)

With Blade, English hopes to prove that “if you want to do consumer, you can do it in Boston,” he told me earlier this week. And “in order to make consumer exciting here, Blade needs to be an exciting space. We wanted to create a focal point for designers and engineers and marketers and entrepreneurs.”

VIP visitors to Blade will get a wristband sent to them in the mail. Inside is a Qualcomm iBeacon chip that interacts with the environment, thanks to software created by Boston-based One Mighty Roar. You encode the wristband with information about your favorite song, your Instagram acccount, your favorite color, and your favorite drink. Then, when you enter Blade, your entrance music plays over the sound system. Some of the LED lighting changes to your color when you’re standing nearby. Your Instagram pics can be projected on the wall. And when you approach the bar, the booze used to make your favorite drink lights up on the shelf.

On top of that, English built a stage, DJ booth, and green room for regular invite-only performances in the space. “I wanted this to be the favorite place for musicians to play in Boston,” says English, adding that Berklee College of Music prof Carl Beatty served as an advisor. iPads can be used to control lighting, sound, and a half-dozen digital projectors around Blade’s main room. English purchased and commissioned original art — including custom wallpaper — for Blade. And since Blade’s ground-floor digs were once home to Weylu’s on the Wharf, a Chinese restaurant, English wrote his own startup-related fortune cookies that guests will get on their way out.

I’m eager to see the finished space. A few work-in-progress photos are below…

The bar area, still under construction, complete with LED lighting that can be controlled from an iPad.  (Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe)

The bar area, still under construction, complete with LED lighting that can be controlled from an iPad. (Photo by Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe.)

A "genius bar" for displaying video art, featuring geniuses Jimi Hendrix and Albert Einstein. (Photo by Scott Kirsner.)

A “genius bar” for displaying video art, featuring geniuses Jimi Hendrix and Albert Einstein. (Photo by Scott Kirsner.)

 

Custom light fixtures built by Billy Crosby. (Photo by Scott Kirsner.)

Custom light fixtures built by Billy Crosby. (Photo by Scott Kirsner.)

 

The stage, with club-quality sound system and lights. (Photo by Scott Kirsner.)

The stage, with club-quality sound system and lights. Koncerted of Waltham was responsible for the AV. (Photo by Scott Kirsner.)

 

A video art installation. (Photo by Scott Kirsner.)

A video art installation. (Photo by Scott Kirsner.)

 

Blade's view across Fort Point Channel, toward the Federal Reserve Bank and the Atlantic Wharf complex. (Photo by Scott Kirsner.)

Blade’s view across Fort Point Channel, toward the Federal Reserve Bank and the Atlantic Wharf complex. (Photo by Scott Kirsner.)

 

The DJ booth, built by Erik Rueda. Click to play video. (Provided by Paul English.)

The DJ booth, built by Erik Rueda. Click to play video. (Photo provided by Paul English.)

Playing the invite-only opening party tomorrow night is New York-based DJ The Wig.

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