The Art of Bloom —
Intertrend & Daikoku Design Institute

Interview by Eugene Kan
Photos by Brandon Shigeta

Interview by Eugene Kan
Photos by Brandon Shigeta

The Art of Bloom is Long Beach’s first immersive pop-up exhibit that brings together art, technology, and the senses. The exhibition was realized together with Intertrend and Tokyo-based Daikoku Design Institute. With Symbiosis as the central theme, it reflects on our special relationship with nature. It consists of an Augmented Nature room with seven themes brought to life through devices: air, water, soil, time, light, shadow, space and wind.

In the larger hall, visitors enter a meditative space that combines physical and digital with showers of petals, vibrant beams of light, and  an immersive atmosphere of sound and scent.

Can you introduce yourself and what you do?

  • Julia Huang, CEO of Intertrend.
  • Tanya Raukko, CSO of Intertrend.
  • Daikoku Daigo, Art Director/Designer

How would you describe the first 3 steps into the space?

  1. Anticipation in the lobby while waiting for the doors to open.
  2. Immersiveness and awe hearing the synopsis about the overarching theme of Symbiosis.
  3. Experiencing the custom designed scent that evokes walking through the woods in silence with a friend.

Can you break down a bit the technological angle within Art of Bloom? Given this activation occurs in-real-life, how does technology elevate the experience?

To make the experience unique, we wanted to add some interactivity and allow visitors to engage with virtual petals. These petals also functioned as the markers for the AR experience.

The requirements for these markers are exactly against the overall look & feel of the exhibition. The exhibition is designed to be clean and minimalist, but we needed big and complex petal markers to activate those AR experiences. Of course, we also hoped that design requirements for the markers wouldn’t destroy the balance of the entire exhibition, but if the petals were too clean and simple, that would will affect the user experience as well and make it unstable. As such, the petals (symbols)needed to be both big and complex so that the device could read the information on the them and provide a stable AR experience to the user.

We tested, again and again, pushing these marker designs to limits we had never seen before. Without contributions from Daikoku, the engineers, and designers, maybe we would have only ended up with a very “plain” petal. But in the end, we ended up with something that’s both beautifully designed and that activates an AR experience to match.

Water

Wind

The concepts of “experience” and “Instagrammable moments” have come to dominate the marketing and entertainment landscape. What are your thoughts on what that means, and how did that apply to the installation?

  • Pop-up experiences in particular have saturated the market, but many of these can have limited depth with merely colorful wallpaper backdrops, ball pits, and props. Consumers have come to expect this.
  • We aimed to design a unique and delightful, truly multi-sensory experience that would allow visitors to embody themselves in a reflective environment with sounds, scents, visual stimuli, touch, and augmented reality technology.
  • Instagrammable moments are indeed a high priority for many people, and while we wanted to allow The Art of Bloom experience to offer this in Exhibit A and B, the focus was more on the overall design and art installation.

This question is for Daigo: what was your earliest and most powerful memories with flowers?

Daigo: I remember vividly when wisteria in my parents’ garden was in full bloom. I witnessed how bees and butterflies gathered around the flowers. Growing up, my friends and I often played under the trellises. When the flowers wilted, we then collected the seeds and played with the harvest, so even as a child, I was amazed how flowers attracted the living….

There’s a strong connection between flowers and other aspects of life. Was there are particular reason why this was your initial effort for an activation?

Daigo: Flowers are a mirror that reflects the depth of the soul through various emotions — happiness and sadness, strength and fragility, life and death. We wanted The Art of Bloom to be an experience that served as a conduit for people to create a memory by feeling empathy for nature. And it was important that we used something uncomplicated and easy to understand — flowers.

Do you think that there’s a particular angle to flowers that has changed with culture?

The ability to sense the beauty of flowers has no barriers, be it race, sex, age, or religion. There are really no exceptions: everyone can understand the beauty of flowers (we sometimes even have dogs come in to enjoy The Art of Bloom). It would be wonderful to see people who already loved flowers love them even more, and for those who were just mildly interested in flowers become more aware of their beauty.

What did you think it’d be like to do a large-scale activation like The Art of Bloom and what has been the reality?

We knew it would be a tremendous amount of work, and with 18 months in the planning, the reality is that it surpassed our expectations with both the public reception and also the magnitude of operation (planning, installation, global team coordination, daily operations)


The exhibition opened on July 24th and runs through to September 29th, 2019:

Edison Theatre
100 Long Beach Blvd.
Long Beach, California

To see Mashable’s interview with Julia and Daigo, watch it here.

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