by WeWantMore, for Smile Safari
When consultancy WeWantMore was approached by Belgian popup “Instagram museum” Smile Safari to create one of the site’s 25 installations, it was skeptical of the idea of a “Disneyland for Instagrammers”. It decided to challenge what it saw as a “shallow” and “narcissistic” culture of “duck faces”, filters and other modifications.
The Anonymous Six installation was created as a tool that makes people focus purely on an image’s aesthetic, rather than its subject. According to WeWantMore, the installation references pre-photography modes of portraiture such as painting and sculpture: “An image stood out because of the mastery of the creator, not the facial expression or hairdo of the person in front of the canvas.”
Anonymous Six consisted of six different glass lenses which acted as rounded filters, and each created different distortions such as fading, blurring, warping or multiplying the subject; rendering pouts and make-up obsolete. Artwork on the walls of the installation was inspired by the then-most liked images on Instagram, such as World Record Egg and Kylie Jenner’s first daughter, which were reduced to their four most dominant colours. These tones were then used to algorithmically generate designs that “look nothing like the original posts, but maintain their visual attraction,” says WeWantMore.
The judges said: “A brilliant and impactful entry, with a superb fresh take on the exhibition platform for an intelligent and thought-provoking response across social media. The concept comes very much to the foreground, and I love the fact that the visitor is the content, in control of the outcome, giving each guest a unique experience.”
The Art and Science of LifeWear: New Form Follows Function
by Uniqlo and Pentagram, for Uniqlo
Designed by Pentagram, the Art and Science of LifeWear: New Form Follows Function was an experiential exhibition held at Somerset House to showcase Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo’s LifeWear philosophy of “simple, high- quality, everyday clothing designed to be both practical and beautiful”.
The exhibition, held during London Fashion Week 2019, was inspired by Uniqlo’s Autumn/Winter 2019 season styling theme ‘New Form Follows Function’; and broke LifeWear down into three main perspectives – art, science and craftsmanship. Easy, fast installation was key; and the exhibition used an opening graphic timeline and animation charting the brand’s story, before visitors accessed five different zones – each with their own sound composition – spread across two floors.
Features included a hanging display of 192 garments; fabric light-boxes on walls; floating fabric strips demonstrating Uniqlo’s lightweight AIRism fabric for users to touch; and temporary AV constructions such as a five-metre high video wall displaying a generative animation of 3,000 items of clothing sorted into grids. Many components were reused or recycled to align with the brand’s sustainability values, which were also highlighted in full-size dioramas. A digital installation by Rhizomatics Architecture showcased Uniqlo Heattech technology; and interaction was encouraged in a multi-sensory mirrored room filled with 50 hanging lamps made from Uniqlo socks.
Science Museum: Medicine, The Wellcome Galleries
by WilkinsonEyre, for Science Museum Group
In November 2019, the world’s latest gallery dedicated to displaying medical artefacts opened across the first floor of London’s Science Museum, designed by WilkinsonEyre in collaboration with the museum's curatorial and interpretation teams and graphic designers Holmes Wood.
The new galleries contain more than 3,000 objects selected from the Science Museum Group and the Wellcome Trust collections; and WilkinsonEyre’s reconfiguration of the space almost doubled its permanent display capacity, improving visitor experience and potentially reducing the museum’s overall carbon footprint. Working to make the space “elegant, timeless and captivating”, as well as accessible through braille and induction loops, WilkinsonEyre created five distinct non-chronological exhibition themes that aim to echo human life cycles: Medicine & Bodies, Exploring Medicine, Medicine & Communities, Medicine & Treatments and Faith, Hope and Fear.
Pieces are displayed in more than 100 bespoke frameless display cases within the galleries, with a 4.5m-high ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ centrepiece housing almost 1,000 additional objects. Accompanying the physical display, selected objects have been digitised to create online education and viewing assets. These are supported by 63 bespoke audio-visual interactive elements; alongside commissioned artworks including Marc Quinn's bronze sculpture Self-Conscious Gene and two series of life-sized photographic portraits by Sian Davey.
by Nissen Richards Studio, for The National Trust
One of Europe’s most significant archaeological sites, Sutton Hoo in Suffolk, is believed to be the Anglo-Saxon royal burial ground for King Rædwald and the site of two sixth and early seventh century cemeteries – one of which contains an undisturbed ship burial.
Nissen Richards Studio worked with the National Trust’s archaeological and visitor engagement teams to redesign the visitor journey around the monument, and created a new 17m-high viewing tower allowing views over the burial site for the first time, as well as a new full-sized representation of the 27m-long ancient burial ship. The main aim of the new interpretation of the Royal Burial Ground is to provoke “an emotional connection in visitors to a compelling story and place”, according to Nissen Richards Studio.
Sutton Hoo’s central exhibition space, High Hall, includes new content such as interactive pieces, graphics-based displays and artefacts including what’s billed as an “ultra-high-quality” replica of the Anglo-Saxon helmet, which is modelled on the reconstruction created over many years by the British Museum conservation team and viewed by many as the “face” of the period.
From Singapore to Singaporean:
The Bicentennial Experience
by MET Studio, for Singapore Bicentennial Office
Sited in an original colonial building, the exhibition From Singapore to Singaporean: The Bicentennial Experience charts the area from its 1819 occupation through to significant modern Singaporean events. The display, created by MET Studio in close partnership with the Singapore Bicentennial Office, aimed to eschew standard exhibition formats by creating a multisensory and immersive 45-minute journey through curated zones framed as different “acts” that examine what makes Singapore unique, such as its weather and nature.
MET Studio says that the overall display depicts “how indigenous people and foreign invaders have come and gone throughout dynasties”. This information is presented through a mixture of traditional and digital means, including animated dioramas; physical actors engaging with viewers on moving travellator sets; LED screens; POV films as-seen by animals; and video and audio testimonials that detail the country’s Japanese invasion through narration from an occupation survivor.
The final room focuses on the death of founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew – a man beloved throughout the country – in 2015, recreating how mourners stood in the rain to watch his funeral, using digital screens where viewers see themselves as part of the crowd and are handed umbrellas as physical “rain” falls within the exhibition space.
Science City: 1550-1800
by Gitta Gschwendtner, for Science Museum
Gitta Gschwendtner is behind the Science Museum in London’s new permanent gallery Science City, which opened in September 2019. The consultancy was briefed to create a timeless gallery that conveys a sense of London between 1550 and 1800; with more than 200 objects of varying scales displayed within their historic contexts while still creating a clear overall narrative.
Science City tells the story of the role of science in transforming London from “a bustling and rapidly expanding commercial city with a relatively modest position on the world stage” in 1550 to “a global city and a world-leading centre of science” in 1800. Abstractions of the shifting architectural archetypes built from transparent mesh throughout the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries form the basis for the design of the main exhibition structures. The consultancy’s brief was to make the space durable enough for children, but to reach a target audience of adult visitors. Another major aim of the exhibition design is to connect the objects with the people and stories of their time using contemporary versions of traditional museum dioramas positioned at the beginning of each section that hope to inspire visitors and draw them into the stories.
Twenty-five Sculptures In Five Dimensions
by Studio Sutherl& and Tom Sharp, for Tom Sharp
The one-night exhibition in London’s Covent Garden, Twenty-five Sculptures In Five Dimensions, was created by writer Tom Sharp and looked to demonstrate “creativity within strict technical writing and design restraints”, as well as create conversations with his clients, according to its exhibition designers Studio Sutherl&.
The entire event was based around the number five: it was five hours long; cocktails used five ingredients; the soundtrack by composer Alex Baranowski used five movements of found sound lasting five minutes each, all based on musical fifths; and the 25 pieces were shown on 500mm square plinths set out in a 5x5 grid. These pieces, termed “sculptures”, were in fact texts in five lines, each containing five syllables, that aimed to create a physical object in the reader's mind. The 200 visitors were invited to tear off five of their favourite five-line sculptures, printed on pads of paper placed on plinths. These were then rolled into a 5x5cm square tube.
Troy: Myth and Reality
by Ralph Appelbaum Associates, for British Museum
The temporary special exhibition Troy: Myth and Reality at the British Museum was the first large-scale Trojan exhibition in the UK in 150 years; and explored the question “why does this story endure?”
The objectives were to “capture the epic core of Troy and translate it into an emotional, engaging experience with relevance for contemporary audiences,” says exhibition designers Ralph Appelbaum Associates. A range of objects spanning 3,000 years were on show including manuscripts, vases and paintings. The complex Trojan story needed to be comprehensible for a wide range of audiences, making meaningful connections across different time periods and examining all facets of the Trojan War.
The exhibition was broken down into linear sections; with two parallel stories wrapping around the central spine of the gallery: The Myth, which told the classical story of the Trojan War, and Enduring Stories, which re-interprets Troy's characters and themes through the eyes of artists, poets and writers. A separate circular space evocative of a 19th century dig explored the archaeological work undertaken to prove Troy’s existence; and other features included a six metre-high Trojan Horse.
Ralph Appelbaum Associates’ design aimed to juxtapose “moments of awe” with more “intimate” moments for visitors to engage with individual objects through the use of dramatic lighting and rich background colours to help multicoloured paintings glow and highlight the detailed black and red figures of Greco-Roman pottery.