Charged with designing a pavilion to house imm „LivingInteriors’“ collection of wall and floor coverings, the designers at i29 wanted to offer visitors “a different take“ on the subject, says the office’s Jeroen Dellensen. “Robert Thiemann of Frame magazine gave us three major trends to address,“ he explains. “These are ‘Inspired by nature’, ‘Anything, anywhere’ and ‘Smart materials’. Within these three themes, we developed an overall concept that can be communicated in several ways.” Unity is provided by “making one big gesture that is strong enough to display all the different trends in one”.
The pavilion plays with the idea of visibility and invisibility, using mirrored glass and lighting to generate a playful effect and to arouse visitors’ curiosity. “We wanted to play with optical illusion and space, and to trigger visitors to discover the different material installations in this pavilion step by step,” says Dellensen. “Lately, the focus in our work at i29 is to create a sense of revelation and curiosity through spatial intervention. There is something intriguing about not being able to decipher the space you are entering at first glance.” In this pavilion, therefore, “visitors are welcomed into an illusionary experience, where see-through mirrored surfaces give a glimpse of several installations spread out over the area”.
As guests arrive, they set off on a main pathway, which the designers refer to as ‘trend avenue’. This then “literally opens up into a square at the centre of the exhibition hall. We’ve placed several ‘experience boxes’ in the square for the display of thematic scenes that refer to the three major trends. Inside these boxes, reflective walls produce a holographic effect that reveals the material’s features. With light flashing on and off inside the boxes, the scenes seem to appear and disappear like a Fata Morgana.” Inside the volumes, a combination of light and sound adds to the immaterial feel of the reflected surfaces.
Immateriality as a design concept is an antidote to the overkill so often encountered at trade fairs, Dellensen believes. “Trade fairs usually strike us as overcrowded places with an abundance of products,” he says. “Most of the time, there is way too much of everything, so you don’t experience the quality of the space and the products any more. By keeping it simple and being selective each time you make a choice, you can avoid the pitfalls.”