Don’t ask us to explain it, but mushroom installations permeated more than one event footprint at Miami Art Week. Perhaps it was a nod to a psychedelic-inspired design renaissance on the horizon, or brands’ efforts to grip the attention of the quirky crowd that the affair (hosted last Nov. 29 to Dec. 4) draws. In any case, it was one of a handful of head-turning experience design trends we spotted during our travels. Ready to tackle 2023 in style? Gather your mood boards and let’s dive in.
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Interactive Light Installations
Immersive light installations have been steadily gaining momentum (think: the Van Gogh exhibit that took the world by storm), and during Miami Art Week, brands like Pantone and BMW elevated the concept with the infusion of interactive technology. Pantone not only revealed its 2023 Color of the Year (Viva Magenta) during Art Week, but launched a temporary residency at Miami’s ARTECHOUSE, where its interactive Magentaverse experience is open to the public through the spring. During our adventures through the Magentaverse, we were often fully enveloped by stunning visions of, among imagery, celestial scenes captured by the James Webb Space telescope.
But it wasn’t just a beautiful view—we were invited to become part of various art installations being featured. One example: an animated LED tunnel that transformed images from outer space into sound through a sonification technique used by NASA. Walking through the installation, visitors activated a LIDAR sensor, which fed into how data is visualized, all anchored by vibrant magenta hues and twinkling lights. In another area, visitors could insert themselves into projection-mapped imagery on the walls and floors by manipulating the sequences with their movements.
Then over at Miami’s Superblue venue, BMW i generated buzz with a temporary residency of its own called Pulse Topology, an installation built by artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer that will be on public display through August. The showcase is comprised of 3,000 lightbulbs, all suspended at different heights, and powered by visitors’ heartbeats. When an attendee interacts with the installation, custom-made pulse sensors track their heartbeat and add it to the umbrella of recordings above them, replacing the oldest recording. The idea was to combine individual heartbeats in order to deliver an immersion of light and sound that underscored BMW i’s “human-centric” approach to technological innovation.
A Touch of Whimsy
Perhaps it was the result of catering to an artsy crowd, but little touches of whimsy could be spotted across Miami Art Week brand activations. Among them: Perrier, which hosted a daytime rooftop event peppered with branded palm fans and various signature Perrier-green accents throughout. Insta-worthy touchpoints, like a quaint sampling cart featuring an umbrella and spoked wheels, and a retro stereo installation, added an air of charm to the environment. (Agency: LU Agency)
Similarly, at the outdoor Instagram lounge within its parent company’s “Meta House” activation, a small, branded ice cream freezer positioned atop an extra-long bicycle, and manned by a brand ambassador, offered sweet treats. And at Route’s indoor-outdoor hotel event, a mock convenience store-inspired installation provided attendees with more information on its shipping services. (Agency: BMF)
Embracing the ‘Magentaverse’
Pantone’s Color of the Year stretched well beyond the brand’s own Art Week installation, which naturally was awash in Viva Magenta from floor to ceiling throughout. Brands including SoundCloud and Meta also saturated their event footprints in vivid pomegranate shades, from illuminated palm trees to lowlighting that cast a pinkish hue on photo ops. Viva Magenta “galvanizes our spirit, helping us to build our inner strength,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director at Pantone Color Institute, in a statement. And in a year poised for continued post-pandemic healing and growth, it’s likely the color will heavily influence experience design motifs in the coming months. (Agencies: Hustle & Co., SoundCloud; Day One Agency, Meta)
As previously mentioned, the shrooms were out in force across a number of brand experiences, with earthy décor and other psychedelic vibes setting the scene. Instagram occupied a dedicated lounge area featuring an oversized inflatable mushroom that served as a popular photo backdrop, along with smaller shroom-themed design touches. (Agency: Day One Agency) And during shipping service Route’s exclusive day-to-evening affair, sponsor Kin Euphorics, which makes non-alcoholic beverage alternatives, built a mushroom-themed installation supported by glowing electric-blue lighting, and faux rocks, grass and tree stumps, where cans of its new Spritz products were on display and available for sampling. (Agency: BMF)
The “trip” continued at a Design Miami exhibition during Art Week, where rapper A$AP Rocky teamed up with Italian furniture brand Gufram, known for its off-beat cactus décor, to launch his new homeware brand and design studio, Hommemade. Together they collaborated to debut “Shroom Cactus,” Rocky’s trippy, mushroom-infused interpretation of Gufram’s cactus-themed, sculptural coat rack, which debuted in the ’70s. Just nine limited-edition Shroom Cacti were available for purchase, but those who didn’t snag the goods could still explore the collaborative exhibit, which invited visitors to traverse a mushroom forest environment with dozens of ceramic flowers scattered around and a “supernaturally staged” blue sky dotted with fluffy clouds.
Photo credit: Pantone; BMW; Getty Images for Meta