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Odyssey, First Virtual Reality Experience at LDF

Optimist Design

Designer Tino Schaedler of Optimist Design joins forces with director Nabil and their company United Realities, to create the first virtual reality experience at this year’s London Design Festival as part of the 10 Designers in the West Wing. Within one of the historical rooms in Somerset House, a black turbine sculpture will be installed that establishes striking juxtaposition to the classical architecture of the existing room. The turbine creates a portal for visitors to an immersive experience that transcends the spatial confines of the room, questioning the definition of time and space in a rather poetic way.


The founder of LA based design studio Optimist Design, Tino’s background as an architect moving into art and film design combined with Nabil’s directing talents creates an experience that explores the intersection of film, architecture and sound via virtual reality; a relatively unchartered means of story telling in the design world.

“We wanted to create a ‘multi-sensory’ experience which is impossible to have in real life but presented in a way that feels real. The visitor will use the VR headset to take an immersive journey to the unfamiliar. With the use of a beautiful visual design, real elements (wind and vibrations) combined with a state-of-the-art spatial sound system this will tap into all the senses and create a highly emotional experience. Odyssey is marking the start of event-based VR installations,” explains Schaedler.


The visitor will enter the West Wing room and be invited to sit on the leather seat of a specially designed black turbine sculpture positioned on a black pedestal. Once the VR headset is placed over the eyes, the VR the journey takes them from the real space in Somerset House, through a computer generated landscape, and from there, out into the vast space of the unknown.

“It’s a 90 second trip that aims to question our current definition of space and time. Odyssey seeks to explore design on a more spiritual or philosophical level, triggering emotions through the use of technology. The experience is a metaphor of what’s really important in life and how a shift in perspective can change our perception and with it, the definition of our world. Odyssey has been conceived as an experience based design project,” explains Schaedler.


To recreate the space at Somerset House for the VR experience, a 3D scan was made of the empty room and a similar technique was used to create the landscape that has been extended digitally. Working with design and cinematic soundscape specialists Nordmeister from LA, the installation is enhanced with cutting edge technology (Sub Pac and Ossic). Sounds are transformed into vibrations with a spacial sound experience, enhancing the emotional aspect of journey, as visitors not only hear but also feel the sound. The headset and VR glasses rep- resent the new HTC technology that will be launched into the consumer market soon, setting new standards for the industry.

Mise-en-abyme was created to the occasion of this year’s London Design Festival, which runs from 19 to 27 September 2015.



all images and video courtesy of Optimist Design