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Hortense Duthilleux, art director
Niles Fromm, designer
Lera Moiseeva, senior designer
Sébastien van den Berg, design director
Christopher Skinner, creative director
Jen Lusker, hardware developer
James Patten, interaction director
Zihao Chen/Richard Eakin/Paul Houx/Anthony Marefat/Kevin Watters, software engineers
Nic Annette Miller, illustrator
Brandon Wolcott, sound designer
James Conathan/Valeria Mirarchi, Luciforma, lighting designers
Natalie Cheng/Albert Debnam, architects
Lui Kawasumi, fabricator
Cyrus Wong, production coordinator
Amy Fung, School House/Iris Li, APAX, project managers
APAX, production company
Patten Studio/School House, project design and development
School House, design firm
La Mer, client

“I loved the simplicity and poetry of this project.” —Sakchin Bessette

“A simple-looking, immersive experience actually, technically, is not that simple.” —Aruna Mall

Overview: The Edge of the Sea was an immersive interactive exhibition created by Brooklyn-based design agency Patten Studio and creative agency School House for La Mer, a luxury cosmetics brand and subsidiary of Estée Lauder. To recruit a new generation of millennial Chinese consumers who are unfamiliar with La Mer’s brand narrative, the exhibition celebrated La Mer’s signature product, Crème de la Mer. Located in Shanghai’s Power Station of Art, The Edge of the Sea reached beyond the general parameters of brand activation to transfix the target audience.

  • Visitors to The Edge of the Sea walked through a series of rooms, each of which represented a step in the creation of Crème de la Mer.

  • Intel RealSense cameras with custom software tracked motion throughout the space.

  • Around 20,000 people visited the exhibition during its ten-day run at the Power Station of Art, with more than one billion social media impressions generated during the same time.

Comments by James Patten:
What did the rooms of the exhibition entail, and how did they relate to the product? “In the first room, visitors walked into an ocean created with video projection on the floors and walls. Sensors picked up visitors’ footsteps, and the ocean—powered by a real-time physics simulation—responded to their movements with splashes and ripples. From there, visitors traveled beneath the surface of the ocean and were immersed in a forest of kelp projected on the walls. By checking in on WeChat, visitors could cause a new strand of kelp to appear, labeled with their WeChat ID. This led to the Sea and Sky room, where an undulating ocean wave made of silk floated in midair. As visitors walked by, their motion triggered fans that amplified the wave’s motion. Visitors continued on to a laboratory, where dozens of flasks mixed liquids, representing the thousands of experiments with kelp extract that physicist Dr. Max Huber [underwent] to perfect the cream. Finally, visitors could explore a film about photographer Mario Sorrenti and model Grey Sorrenti’s collaboration with La Mer on a 360-degree projection screen, watching the film either from inside or outside the circle.”

What technologies were used to create the experience? “The first ocean scene was created in Unity, and footsteps were tracked with a series of networked LIDAR scanners. The underwater scenes were created in C++ with Cinder. Both scenes were powered by real-time physics simulations to drive features like the motion of the waves or the swaying of kelp strands in the water.”


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