Wing It —
Awareness Exhibition Design
Role — Student Designer
Timeline — December 2017
A research study in Germany reported a dramatic decline of winged insects—around a 75 percent drop of insect biomass over the last 27 years. Design students in environmental design and new media at Virginia Tech found this environmental topic so compelling that they built an exhibit around it by using Virginia Tech’s vast insect specimen collection.
With the support of a CIDER educational grant, the Virginia Tech students were able to collaborate with designers and computer scientists who were experts in 3D modeling and immersive technologies. Once able to view the model in the Hyper Cube, the design process became an agile one where the team could test out different arrangements on the fly. This iterative design approach helped with spatial clarity and idea generation.
For example, the large butterfly graphics were a design unknown because of the wooden slats. Like a lenticular image, the slats would change the legibility of the image based on your vantage point—sometimes they even obscured the view. The students didn’t know if these graphics would work from key vantage points in the room. But the virtual exhibit confirmed the design, excited the team and eased minds.
SEGD Experiential Design Conference 2018 — Minneapolis, Minnesota
As a team leader, I was invited to accept a Global Design Award in Minneapolis and to speak on our experiences and work at the SEGD Academic Summit. We were awarded a most prestigious award competing alongside many professional firms in the experiential design field. I spoke on the ‘Future of Experiential Design: How new technologies can transform trial and error’, pulling from our experience in the Hyper Cube, our one day install, and the honor of working with a fantastic team of multi-disciplinary standouts.
The exhibit resided in both physical and virtual space. The main exhibit was designed primarily for a gallery in the architecture building. Prior to installation, however, the room had been 3D scanned and those models were translated to ISO-IEC standard Extensible (X3D), along with assets made in Maya and SketchUp.
The final X3D model was viewed through an immersive Hyper Cube—a 26.7 million pixel back-projected stereo CAVE. The X3D version of the exhibition allowed for multi-stakeholder and multi-platform design walk throughs, as well as design testing.
There were multiple challenges in main gallery. The Virginia Tech designers couldn’t test in the space because of scheduling, couldn’t test with the specimen cases because of fragility, had to negotiate wooden slats on every wall, and had to learn (exciting!) new technology.
What’s interesting to note are the challenges the team didn’t face. Because the Virginia Tech class tested out the design in virtual space, when it came to the night of the install the team was surprisingly at ease. They still moved items around in the gallery, but there was a level of confidence to the install.