Awakening: Try-On Tech Meets Avatar Inspiration
Designer Gary James McQueen and photographer Simon Emmett (both British) exhibited Awakening at the V&A Museum. The installation illuminated a new, more inclusive stance on fashion couture, while providing inspiration on how avatars and digital fashion might evolve in future ‘meta-physical’ environments. Such brand spaces feature elements of the metaverse and digital fashion, like Crosby Studios’ New York store. Awakening allowed visitors to don McQueen’s regal-looking digital couture creations via a ‘magic mirror’ screen, which instantly fitted the virtual fashion onto their bodies.
McQueen’s designs were transformed into 3D renderings via Epic Games-owned graphic tool Unreal Engine, which fuelled the ‘mirror’ devised by Russian technologists Texel. Visitors posed in front of a painting reminiscent of a 17th-century Dutch landscape, with the digital pieces appearing to bend and fold like bespoke garments. Image captures were available to share on social media directly from the screen.
Kaorium: The AI Apothecary
Enabling visitors to bridge the gap between impression and description (critical but difficult in fragrance retailing), Japanese perfume technologists Scentmatic’s Kaorium comprised a digitalised tabletop with physical vials of scents. Upon smelling the vessels, visitors placed the ones they liked upon a central coaster. A screen then displayed various descriptive words associated with that fragrance – like ‘sultry’ or ‘fresh’ – with people selecting the one that resonated most with them. Other vials on the table lit up based on their chosen terminology.
After repeating the process several times, the AI-powered tabletop analysed the key components of all the scents selected, presenting common notes (like sandalwood or lavender) to the individual. This type of user experience, whereby perplexing personal decisions can be mitigated (and indeed made to feel special) through technological intervention, is gaining ground in fragrance retail.
Weird Sensation Feels Good: ASMR Goes Offline
Swedish architecture and design museum ArkDes reprised its ASMR installation, Weird Sensation Feels Good, for LDF. ASMR – which stands for autonomous sensory meridian response, a physical sensation of euphoria or calm triggered by sound, touch and movement – is usually experienced online. It gained mainstream popularity in 2018, and as of 2022, the genre has cultivated an estimated 50,000 dedicated YouTube channels – some of which have received over 600 million views. However, ArkDes’ installation used ASMR to heighten the experience of physical spaces.
Visitors could rest within a huge nest of tubular pillows (with headphones) to watch and listen to ASMR videos ‘featuring sounds such as whispering or tapping’. They could also make their own ASMR by running various brushes over a microphone connected to their headphones, and explore other videos while feeling objects designed to complement the sounds they were hearing.
As consumers cherish physical connections post-pandemic amid increased digitalisation, ASMR installations are tapping into the rise of hyper-physical brand spaces, enabling companies to heighten the physical associations of their hero products.