Random Studio

“Any sufficiently
advanced technology
is indistinguishable
from magic”
– Arthur C. Clarke

To celebrate the festive season, Random Studio gave three of de Bijenkorf’s windows the magic appeal

  • Date: 29.OCT.2015
  • Client: Found on behalf of
    de Bijenkorf
  • Role: Concept, Hardware / Software Development, Animation

“Glue spectators’ noses to the window, metaphorically speaking. Do so by bringing magic to the window display in unexpected ways.” This was the brief delivered to Random Studio by Found on behalf of The Netherlands’ leading luxury department store de Bijenkorf. The Amsterdam based creative studio is known for its ability to build enchanting and often interactive experiences. Compelled by narratives where the digital and the physical meet, their latest feat for the three flagship venues of de Bijenkorf is the perfect example of what Random Studio is all about.

Premium experience has always been key to the renowned shopping plaza and in the run up to Christmas 2015 passers-by and window-gazers alike can enjoy a beguiling magic show like no other.

Random’s interpretation of “bringing magic to the window” centres around a series of three magic tricks conducted by a bodiless, two-faced magician, whose gloved hands hover in mid-air. These kinetically animated appendages bring to life the surrounding pieces: a gift box that hides and reveals precious presents, a magically spinning whirlwind string and a billowing over-sized silk scarf, suspended in mid-air in a poetic dance.

front shot
Installation view of de Bijenkorf Amsterdam, corner window

For the luxury department store’s auxiliary branches in Rotterdam and The Hague the magician’s trick repertoire consists simply of the majestic scarf. The biggest treat takes stage at the flagship store in Amsterdam, where de Bijenkorf’s spacious (and infamous) corner window showcases all three distinctive tricks.

Many technological obstacles had to be navigated during the creation of this experience. In order to achieve lucid movement of both arms, with individually flexing fingers on each hand, bespoke software and hardware was developed by Random. This allows for sophisticated gestures to be made by the magician; handy for controlling his tricks. Aside from this, a new comprehensive sequencing program assures that the performance is never repeating itself. Finally a smart solution for recalibrating the robotic elements was developed, meaning that this complex process is seamlessly hidden within the performed gestures. All of these developments ensure a reliable and versatile installation, whilst making sure that the performance is consistently captivating.

The window space itself oozes the charm of a contemporary baroque theatre. The opulent material and colour palette, typical of the festive season, is seasoned with bold design elements (a dark marble floor pattern, a massive distorted gold-mirror backdrop and gold chain curtains that frame the stage) lending a sinister edge to the stage and spectacle.

Special attention goes to the meticulously embroidered leather-goods, a job Random commissioned to Parisian fashion artist Natalie Riachi. Random’s 3D-printed masks and gloves were upholstered in lambskin, acting as a luscious canvas on which the embroidery took place. 115 Swarovski crystals and approximately 600 brilliantly faceted shiny filler beads were sown onto every glove, each one taking up to 17 hour – a real labour of love.

Riachi Studio adorned each pair of masks, themselves referencing the ancient Greek comedy/tragedy theatre masks, with two contrary expressions. ‘Youth’ is conveyed through beads with warm, fiery tones, with arrangements emanating outward and around, much like the creases of a smiling face. ‘Wisened’ is expressed by a colder choice of colours and beads, arranged to droop and fall inward and down the face, giving the effect of rain and ice. Multifaceted Swarovski crystals fill the window space with magical, shimmering points of light, adding an aura of elegance and luxury to the entire showpiece.

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Random’s 3D-printed masks and gloves were upholstered in lambskin, acting as a luscious canvas on which the embroidery took place.
random_-0556
115 Swarovski crystals and approximately 600 brilliantly faceted shiny filler beads were sown onto every glove, each one taking up to 17 hours.
random_-0556

Everything from the initial concept to the design, programming, animation and physical build was taken care of in-house, showcasing the studio’s technical know-how, urge to experiment and experience in realising such installations.

‘Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,’ acknowledged the influential British science fiction author Arthur C Clarke in 1973. It’s a remark that shows its truth here, today. Clarke’s words encapsulate Random Studio’s vision: that creative technology, without becoming transcendental, can truly spark joy and wonder.

Behind the Scenes

1/5
CREDITS:

Client: Found on behalf of de Bijenkorf
Concept, Design, Production, Hardware/Software Development & Animation Random Studio with help from Daan van Hasselt and Frolic
Project Management: Found & Random Studio
Set construction and Install: Fiction Factory
Embroidery: Riachi Studio
Documentation Video and Photography: Andrzej Rudz (Digital Amigos)
Documentation Music: Greg Haines - “Wake Mania Without End II”