Dare to Dream

Dream Cube Glowing Green by ESI_Design.
 

The 40,000 square-foot Pavilion, known as the “Dream Cube,” designed by Edwin Schlossberg’s firm, ESI in New York, which opens on May 1 at the Shanghai world expo, encourages visitors to participate in an multimedia experience comprised of cutting-edge technology, dreamlike environments, collaborative social spaces and sustainably designed materials.

The Dream Cube leads visitors through a beautiful story of the city’s past, present and future. The experience also transforms moment-by-moment via their collective participation. Crowd-sourced photos uploaded by the public at the Dream Cube website blend with stunning video on immense media walls. Beds of glowing LED crystalline reeds change color with the sweep of visitors’ hands. A 360-degree interactive theater showcases the audience’s gestures and physical actions, which trigger dramatic changes to millions of LED lights on the Dream Cube’s façade. In these ways, the Dream Cube promises to set new trends for future designs of large-scale public events.

Inside the Dream Cube, visitors travel through a 20-minute journey inspired by fourth-century Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi’s dream that he was a butterfly (or, alternately, a butterfly dreaming it was Zhuangzi). Visitors ascend on an escalator, surrounded by bluish light and soft music, into the heart of the Dream Cube. There they stroll along the “Dreamer’s Path,” a visual story of the city of Shanghai through time – from a small rural village to a vibrant mega-metropolis. Along the path, interactive areas fill with flying butterflies, changing seasons, crowd-sourced images of city life, sculptural lighting and surprise video “portals” that respond to visitor interaction. The path ultimately leads visitors into a massive circular theater — the Dream Cube Control Room — where they gather to participate in a 360-degree interactive video experience narrated by the actress and director Xu Jinglei, who plays “Professor Butterfly” in the Dream Cube story. In the final climactic moments, Professor Butterfly reveals live-feed images of the exterior façade, as she rallies the crowd to wave their arms high in the air. The Dream Cube’s exterior pulses with color in time with their collective actions, sweeping them up in the emotional power of collaboration. For video of the Cube go here. 
 

Dream Cube's Pulsing LED Exterior by ESI_Design.

Waiting in the Queue to Enter the Dream Cube by ESI_Design.
 

Ascending the Escalator into the Dream Cube by ESI_Design.
 
 

The Dreamer's Path: Spring by ESI_Design.
 
 

The Dreamer's Path: Interactive Weed Beds by ESI_Design.
 

Dream Cube Control Room by ESI_Design.
 

Dream Cube Control Room by ESI_Design.
 

Dream Cube Control Room by ESI_Design.
 
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Daily Heller, Imprint: Print Magazine's Design Blog

About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes a weekly column for The Atlantic online and is the "Visuals" Columnist for the New York Times Book Review. He is also the author of over 160 books on design and visual culture. And he is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.

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