This colourful volume brings together a range of immersive installations that architects, designers and artists have dreamed up for every environment, from fashion runways to retail backdrops.
In Frankfurt, Tobias Rehberger uses dazzle camouflage and moiré patterns to disorient visitors at his solo exhibition. In Milan, DGT Architects suspends 80,000 gold watch base plates to create a shimmering realm. And in Barcelona, Penique Productions shrink-wraps a monochromatic room using a deflated giant orange balloon for maximum drama.
In Liquid Spaces (Gestalten), there are (thankfully) no diatribes to expound colour theories, spatial analyses or material explorations. Save for a brief preface by editor Sofia Borges (who co-authored the book with Sven Ehmann and Robert Klanten), there are simply 250 pages splashed with large photographs of permanent and temporary interiors and installations: contemporary, spectacular, immersive and experimental. The eye candy in this book induces an acute case of fear-of-missing-out.
These otherworldly spaces range from exploratory exhibitions to functional fashion runways and retail backdrops. Divided into four chapters, the book sorts them according to their exemplary geometric aesthetics, ephemeral quality, theatrical sleights of hand or interactivity. At the centre of each project is an ability to draw crowds that don’t just observe but participate in shaping the work, blurring the line between creator and audience. In some, visitors are suspended in dubiously secure installations, while in others they walk on graphic surfaces.
Although corporate executives and marketing gurus evangelize the value of immersive customer experiences, the spaces featured here offer inherently unique scenes to confound and attract. Moreover, many of the creatives behind them use unconventional, unexpected materials: black hot glue, plastic sheeting, pool noodles, straw, tracing paper. It’s the projects using the simplest materials to transform a venue that are the most impressive.
Liquid Spaces is at heart a pretty picture book, but one that serves as a resource of inspiration for designers and proponents of experiential environments (executives, we’re looking at you).
Nina Boccia, a former associate editor at Azure, now manages the marketing and design team at the Design Exchange in Toronto.