La Mer transports visitors into ethereal underwater experience

INSPIRATION STATION: An interactive exhibition for the Estée Lauder skincare brand combines technology and art to transport visitors into a kelp forest.

Edge of the Sea China Exhibition, presented by Brooklyn-based design studio Patten Studio and creative agency School House for the luxury cosmetics brand La Mer, won the Communication Arts 2021 Interactive Annual Award in March for pushing the boundaries of interactive design.

In 10 days, the exhibition at Shanghai's Power Station of Art attracted more than 20,000 people and generated over 1 billion social media impressions, as La Mer shared its brand story with a new generation of millennial Chinese consumers.

The exhibition adopted projection mapping and sound design to form an immersive, 360-degree garden of responsive kelp stirred by human motion.

Patten Studio's team of multidisciplinary artists and technologists created the visuals, hardware, and software that brought Edge of the Sea to life.

Talking about the core design concept of the project, James Patten, founder and principal of Patten Studio, said he believes that "interactivity is such a powerful tool in experience design because it draws guests into the story you're trying to tell".

"It's impossible to be a passive observer if the environment you're in is responsive to your movement, or the sound of your voice. That immediately makes people feel involved. It creates a connection between an individual and the experience, and between the individual and the brand that is giving you that experience," he explained.

The installation was designed to promote La Mer's signature product, Crème de la Mer. According to La Mer's parent company Estée Lauder, strong sales and earnings in China have primarily been driven by marketing and promotional events like this one.

Visitors both online and offline could also interact via WeChat. By scanning a QR code, visitors could cause a new strand of kelp to appear, labeled with their WeChat ID. The installation also included a laboratory, where dozens of flasks mixed liquids, representing the 6,000 experiments that physicist Max Huber conducted to create the cream's formula.

Credits:

Interactive Design, Visual Design, Content, Software, Electronics, Mechatronics, Fabrication, Installation: Patten Studio
Client: La Mer
Interior Design, Concept, Creative Direction: School House
Lighting Design: Luciforma
Contractor, Production, Fabrication, Installation: APAX

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The Campaign Asia-Pacific Team