BLOG

Resilience

I’ve learned al lot about resilience. From an early age I experienced adversity and how it impacted my perception of security. As a child I began to search for experiences, spaces and objects that provided me with both emotional and physical safety. An early (Spring) safe space for me was hiding underneath the Peony bushes in the garden being small enough to crawl between their stems and beneath their opulent and preposterous blooms that seemed to engulf me in their vivid unfurled petals, colors and textures. Perhaps this memory connects me with my current work in creating rich interactive spatial media experiences for art fairs, retail and hospitality clients.

I love the concept of evolving narrative journeys within architectural environments and how the arc of a storyline guides visitors through immersive environments allowing for both impact, spontaneity and meaningful spatial interactions. The image below of artist Pipolotti Rist’s 2008 installation “Pour Your Body Out” reminds me of my Peony childhood experience even though this is a tip toe through the tulips…

Credit…Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Musings and reveries of a post industrial designer…

The role of the design today has many facets from inter- planetary savior to the destroyer of worlds. I’d like to place myself in the former category however I do often feel paralyzed that my decisions or indecisions to design and create something will have far reaching ecological consequences…feel the fear and do it anyway? Maybe…it’s just that industrial product design and development is so toxic. How sustainable can it really be to create products from furniture, vehicles and technology to fashion and clothing in an ecological way? I really don’t have all the answers. Over the last 20 years only ONE of my clients has ever supported (and paid for) the use of sustainably sourced products and materials. I remember reading

Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change

by Victor Papanek where his advice was to accept the client work saying “you have to eat and feed your family” however remember your responsibility to educate the client regarding their material choices and  impact on the environment. Fast forward to The Metaverse/s. Fantastic….we can design anything we imagine without real world limitations or the release of toxic chemicals and environmental destruction…except for render farms that is and energy guzzling servers. OK what if energy for these platforms was guaranteed from sustainable energy sources wind/solar right? Problem solved? TBD.

If I remember correctly I wanted to be a number of things as a child (not in any order) chef, astronaut, train driver, artist, musician, scientist, doctor, florist…a few of which I’ve managed to accomplish – but the beauty of being a designer is that I can get to “play” at being any one of these professions.

 I became a designer to create function as opposed to “dysfunction” and felt at the time that being an artist (fine artist/sculptor) meant invoking too much ambiguity in the work – I needed to create order by structuring my thoughts and processing them in to tangible forms and “useful” experiences.

Ambiguity and dysfunction were familiar to me as a child and I craved logic and security. That said I learnt so much more about the interconnected and expansive nature of design during my degree course in Product Design (that’s industrial products not software!) at Central St Martins College of Art & Design (UAL) in London. Thanks to the cultural studies program run by Lorraine Gammon my horizons were literally expanded in terms of knowledge, empathy and connectivity to art, history, politics, gender studies, science, technology and how to steal from stores un-detected…more on that later. 

 

Julian_color_lamps

Interview with Christy Lamagna for Corporate Event News. Part 1.

What is a spatial innovation and experiential design director?

Julian Lwin: My role can be described as an omni-dimensional story teller. I take a client’s brand narrative and create an immersive “theatre-like” experience: designing the staging, lighting, sound, visual cues and custom designed decor. I orchestrate a journey that connects brand initiatives with an audience where for the performance the leading actors are cars, fashion collections, fragrances, data, technology or new product launches. My role as an experiential design director is similar to that of a theatre director – where every detail of a performance is stage-managed to evoke maximum empathy and meaningful enduring impact.

What is your background and how did you get started?

Julian Lwin: From an early age I had a keen interest in music, art and performance. I was fascinated by productions at the theatre and exhibitions in galleries. While studying English literature I was absorbed by the line, “All the world’s a stage” in William Shakespeare’s As You Like It (not specifically the seven stages of life the monologue refers to but with the crafting of lives within space). At that point I also began designing stage sets and loved how I could focus an audience’s attention on specific details by using lighting, props and backgrounds. Theatre design led me to recognize the similarities between presenting art in galleries and in designing sets for productions. In a gallery context the primary focus is to highlight the art work within a defined environment, here the gallery becomes a “backdrop” to present the art – not unlike a stage set.

I trained as an industrial designer in London at Central St. Martins School of Art and Design where I developed inter-disciplinary collaborations between fine art, graphics, ceramics, jewelry and fashion design students. This became the foundation for my journey to  the “immersive”  spatial and “experiential” design arena.

That sounds complicated, yet your designs are so natural.

Julian Lwin: For me, design not only solves problems with creative solutions and functionality but with beauty and personality. I find designing is a natural process as fluid as language.

The word ‘experiential’ is thrown about very casually in today’s language.  What’s your definition of ‘experiential design’?

Julian Lwin: In a nutshell, ‘experiential’ design is when and where sensorial empathy is communicated at every user engagement point from the choice of construction materials and lighting to color psychology and the production of space. When a customer/consumer becomes truly immersed within the fabric (metaphorically) of an environment, the result is experiential – where tangible brand interaction and engagement take place.

Can you give me an example of something you designed, the idea behind it and what the onsite experience was?

Furniture design 1Furniture design 2

Julian Lwin: Working with Herman Miller for Art Basel Miami Beach was an amazing opportunity to create a unique “gallery” experience for an iconic American brand. The concept for this design was to showcase classic Eames furniture from the Herman Miller Collection designed in the 1950’s with newly updated contemporary colors, fabrics and materials. By overlaying the furniture on organically shaped flooring panels and nestled beneath an ethereal translucent canopy screen  we drew attention to the vibrant new colors and textures of this fabulous collection. Visitors enjoyed being saturated by the fully immersive nature of the furniture experiencing a connection between the past and present – a truly visceral brand connection.

Interview with Christy Lamagna for Corporate Event News. Part 2.

How does hiring you elevate an experience?

Julian Lwin: I’m lucky enough to work at what I love doing. I am committed to creating the best possible designs and experiences for my clients – the work will be vibrant and dynamic enthused with a curated eye for continuity and relevance. Every aspect of the design journey is scrupulously considered and clients and will find in me a kindred spirit with a desire to deliver excellence far from the banality of mediocre “solutions” that simply get a job done.

How does that translate when trying to measure ROI?

Julian Lwin: Successful brand experiences offer genuine engagement with audiences and attendees. In designing memorable experiences, clients understand the value of empathy. It is this empathy that customers recognize when developing a relationship with a brand – which in turn leads to new and returning business. Banal design experiences isolate customers and do little to engage and retain them. Strategic and well-conceived designs on the other hand have the power to transform events and experiences in to sublime happenings with excitement and a tangible buzz – this is what I strive for in my work and it’s where true return on investment percolates. Current research proves that optimizing engaging customer “experiences”  leads to greater brand loyalty and investment.

Does your talent translate to events and tradeshows?

Julian Lwin: Yes, event and tradeshow design are absolutely services I offer. Creating environments for an event or trade show are great opportunities to encapsulate thematic elements or “brand essence” in to a succinct experience.  Herein lies the magic where visceral brand engagement is sown in to the design experience right from the concept stage. I design temporary events and trade shows of any scale quickly and efficiently with fun, elegance and distinction.

What’s the design/experience you created of which you are most proud?

Fabric tunnel 2

 

Fabric tunnel

Julian Lwin: I created a 200’ immersive sensory tunnel art installation experience for the Pulse Contemporary Art Fair in NYC. The design utilized undulating translucent panels filled with sumptuous color and lighting. The concept was to combine the use of color and subliminal soundscapes to calm and restore the visitors on their journey.  The project created a transitional space leading from the busy West Side Highway in NYC to the art fair housed in the Chelsea Piers along the Hudson river. Installed in one day the tunnel resulted in a magical and other worldly transit  experience for over 7000 attendees.

What other ways can event strategists utilize your talents that they may not be thinking of?

Julian Lwin: Successful events use design to craft the tonality for each event with a unique personality and coherent brand message – these are integral event planning considerations. offers an acute awareness of contemporary culture and current trends in music and materials to colors, fabrication and presentation techniques. Applying appropriate design from the initial event invitation (when first impressions make a considerable impact) to designing transportation logistics illustrates that design becomes the axis from which all event elements filter through. Design psychology and consumer insight are valuable tools when considering innovative event technologies from data analytics to on-stage presentation technologies. There is no doubt about it – designers and event strategists are a perfect team – uniquely qualified to partner their skillsets to create seamless events and experiences.

Frame Design Awards 2021

Frame Jury: Julian Lwin Immersive Design – August 2021

Delighted to be working with Frame Magazine as a Jury Panelist for the Frame Awards 2021. I will be judging spatial design projects from around the globe with a focus on #CREATIVITY + #INNOVATION + #FUNCTIONALITY + #SUSTAINABILITY

https://frameweb.com/article/the-15-industry-leaders-you-need-to-know-in-this-round-of-interiors-of-the-month

Immersive Experiential Spatial Design