vs.designlab is a multidisciplinary design practice & think tank founded out of the MA Narrative Environments - Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. Based in London, and Berlin we are: Communication Designers, Scenographers, Service Flow Experts, Architects, Programmers, Psychologists and Cultural Scientists who draw upon creative and narrative techniques to deliver powerful immersive experiences that leave a long-lasting impression.
Using narrative theory as the basis of our design strategy, we design services, interactive installations, exhibitions, and organise events, performances and happenings in public spaces which go beyond mere broadcast and story-telling to deliver a truly immersive experience.
We change spaces to places – true story!
Each bespoke design springs from the vs.designlab 'red thread' methodology. This rigorous, evidence-based approach ensures that we identify and draw out your unique story, develop an engaging narrative from it and create the best fitting integrative solution. The 'red thread' for all your customer interactions.
In close collaboration with Roger Titley – “the world’s best puppeteer” – and a small team, we produced 5 creatures, the largest being 13 meters long. 54 Brazilian dancers were cast and trained to operate these creatures. The theme was early life on earth and formed the beginning of the narrative of the famous Opening Ceremony for the Rio Olympics 2016, that was watched by billions of people from around the world.
Slava’s beautiful “Le Moulin Jaune”, just east of Paris is a garden of eden of creativity and. The theme for his famous spring festival in 2016 was “air”. In close collaboration with Roger Titley we worked with clowns from Russia and France to make our beautiful white birds fly in perfect natural motion. This is when the magic happens – as if their moment of birth.
SongBoard is a multi-sensory interactive wall installation which was located at the main entrance of King’s Cross Station to engage visitors, commuters and local residents, both national and international, in three ways. By moving the balls, users are able to create their own patterns and ‘compose’ their own music. Equally, the SongBoard can be simply observed. Interaction is optional and levels of engagement vary: some simply walk by and observe, while others with time ‘play’ more. This interplay of the human senses was providing a playful and more memorable experience in the heart of the host city, reflecting the participatory and collaborative ethos of the Olympic Games.
We curated the country and student national exhibitions for Austria at the Prague Quadrennial – the worlds’ biggest international exhibition of theatre design. We secured one of the rare jury awards for Austria – the first price since Austria’s contribution to the PQ (since 1967). And yes, we are very proud.
➔ curation, project management, exhibition design, media communication, website designMore
How can “home” be re-defined in a continuously globalised world?
The exhibition explores what “home” and sense of belonging mean in a continuously globalised world where people of all classes are required or motivated to lead a nomadic lifestyle. To a certain extent this lifestyle means a return to a time when feeling at home was defined by a sense of being part of the world and not by possessions. The concept of home has thus become a driver for ‘a constantly growing volume of unsustainable consumption, regarding the world as a standing reserve.’ (Tony Fry) Home, and therefore also homelessness, should be re‐defined, and consequently our understanding of patriotism or nationalism.
The exhibition toured in London and Prague and is available for further locations. The project also included the production of a book, workshops, discussion groups and ongoing research.
➔ community engagement, exhibition design, visitor experience, audience research, project management, website designMore
The site is transformed from an unused pottery factory into a brand new art zone. Exhibition space, artist studios, living and recreation areas, tea shops and a visitor centre are intertwined with experiences that encourage further exploration of the making and significance of pottery.
“Sewing serendipity” is a joint experience that caters to different types of visitors and lets them dive into a new world of discovery. The spatial strategy incorporates the process of making ceramics as “expression of self” and as a “meditative act”. Sensual, historical, technical and natural experiences offer active or passive participation and invite the visitor to create their own path. The site becomes a unique and inspiring experience.
➔ visitor experience, visitor journey, engagement concept, service design, architectural integration, exhibition master planning
“Klangwolke” is part of the ars electronica festival. With Roger Titley Creatures and Christopher Smart.
In South Africa we designed the life size creatures and their movement systems so that 350 volunteers could build the creatures out of pre-cut polyethylene foam. In Linz in Austria we organised and managed an army of volunteers and held workshops to guide them through the construction of their animal.
The typical animal moves were trained in several seminars. During the performance not only Linz’s population but also their barking dogs proofed us right – featuring characteristic traits and movements brought the creatures to life.
For the evening spectacle selected creatures were painted with UV color and could save their lives to Noah’s Arch while 80.000 visitors watched mesmerised.
➔ community engagement, workshops, co-design and build
Our brief was to consider how a Live Sites Screen might work in the new Granary Square at the Kings Cross development taking into consideration the Olympic legacy.
After a rigorous period of research and the exploration of a multitude of ideas and concepts we constructed a story arc that captured the spirit of the Olympics. Through a program of events and activities, which required varying levels of engagement, the users of the screen and the space were invited to take ownership of the square.
➔ community engagement, visitor experience, outreach activities, research into use of large screen in public spaces
A compelling vision of the campus of the future in 2030
With the STEEP forecasting method we researched future trends and created scenarios. Based on the forecast that there will be majorly shrunk cities and megacities we developed the future scenario for Bioflame University. The storyline follows Samantha, a student of one of the large corporate universities, through her day at uni her dystopian reality. She understands that her learning is merely a tool for future profit for the company who owns her university and pays for her tuition – the only way she can afford to lead a better lifestyle and attend university. While looking like they are benefiting the community, in reality these companies have created a beautiful ideological place that lures many, but offers little back to society morally. A rebellion think-tank called “Hacktivists” form, trying to free the “shrunk city”, own valuable information technologies and proclaim their “Open Source and Wisdom for Education” manifesto.
➔ scenario creation, persona creation, forecasting, research
The original glass block has been innovated esthetically as well as morphologically and in its assembling method.
Inspired by nature, the new Flexflux glass bricks open fascinating new possibilities to create flowing surfaces and special light effects. The simplicity of the polygonal form, the rectangular triangle, was created to represent the dynamism of the final product. Its specific shape opens new possibilities to flexibility and movement.
The triangular form is being repeated in the facing sides of each brick and leads to reflections of the incoming light creating a variety of different moods.
➔ product innovation