Buble Studios at the IAC Expo, Paris
We were approached by The Rocket Group, on behalf of their client Buble Studios, to design and build an expo stand for the International Astronautical Congress taking place in Paris in September 2022.
This could be no ordinary stand. Buble’s whole ethos is the stuff of a creative’s dreams… that of the boundless possibilities of space exploration, human endeavour, curiosity, and inspiration to name a few.
Buble knew they wanted to create a portal to another dimension, and incorporate an alien tree into the strange new world the portal delivered the delegates to. It was then down to the Universal team to take this brief and create an experience like nothing the expo world had seen before.
Our Innovation & Sustainability Lead, Neil Clappison, assembled a small team of creative and technical experts in the unusual.
They held multiple brainstorming sessions to bounce ideas off each other on the two main concepts of the stand – the portal and the tree.
Plenty of ideas of how the different elements could be interactive, immersive and sensory experiences were floated between the Universal, Rocket Group and Buble teams.
Due to the worldwide locations of various team members – the UK, Mexico and Hawaii, these calls were often around the clock.
In the end the ideas were fine-tuned down to the final few and the creations could begin to come to life.
Our in-house graphics team worked closely with Neil to visualise the portal (now known as ‘The Cave’) and the alien tree.
The visuals really helped bring the concepts to life for the client.
The end result for the stand was to produce two totally unique, fully custom-built experiences, pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved on an expo stand.
The portal to another dimension took the form of a cave. Rocky and rough on the outside, but with a futuristic, shiny rainbow infinity experience on the inside.
The construction involved building an array of what came to be known as ‘infinity boxes’. Each one had a two-way mirrored window, looking into a box of mirrors, and was lined on all edges with RGB addressable LED tape. The LED could be programmed with hue, saturation & brightness, as well as the ability to create movement and animation along the edges of each box. Put together, the boxes reflected themselves and anything else in the cave into infinity.
The back wall of the cave was a high resolution LED screen, with a camera positioned at the cave entrance pointing back at the screen, creating the illusion of infinity with a video feedback loop.
The end result was a huge draw for the stand, it became known as ‘the selfie-station’ and was a constant draw among delegates during the five days the expo was open.
THE ALIEN TREE
Having passed through the portal, brave voyagers (aka delegates!) arrived in the landscape of a strange exoplanet, greeted by our interactive alien tree.
The tree welcomed them with seating on its roots, and calming music played from carefully hidden speakers. Subwoofers were placed under the seats for gentle vibrations as well as sound.
The treetops gently swayed in an imaginary breeze, creating a dreamy, ethereal atmosphere where people enjoyed staying for a while, and talking and creating with others (and having a free coffee!).
While under the tree, they could enjoy scents from inbuilt humidifiers and watch the LED strips on the trunk and branches change colour and animate.
The tree also included interactive elements: to one side eight musical tendrils stretched from the tree top to the floor and could be played by touch. The tone and type of sound they emitted could be controlled and changed throughout the event.
Around the rest of the tree, another eight tendrils hung down, each with an almost spherical LED light on the end (for anyone who’s interested in the specifics, the exact shape of these is a truncated icosahedron – although we just called them ‘light balls’). Inside each ball was a light, a tiny speaker and a LiDAR sensor, enabling the tendril to detect when delegates approached, and retract upwards out of their way, playing a sound as it went.
The tree brought a sense of wonder, enjoyment & play to those of all ages that fell under its spell.
The end result was a spectacular, unique and innovative stand which not only fulfilled the client brief, but blew away everyone at the expo. It was a fantastic project to be a part of and a hugely successful collaboration between all the teams. We can’t ask for more than that!
“This project was so fun to create! Partnering with Universal Live, we devised a ground-breaking exhibit that mesmerized conference-goers. It was the perfect blend of entertainment and education, setting a new benchmark for the space sector.”
Kevin Lewis – CEO – Buble Studios
“I’ve never seen a reaction to an expo stand like this before. It’s blown everyone’s minds and has been a massive success – everywhere you go around the event you can hear people talking about it. It’s crazy!”
Neil Clappison, Universal Live.