World’s Fair – Augmented Reality

object exploration

» Touchscreen Interface
» Augmented Reality
» Educational Computer Animations
» Visitor Statistics Capture


In-gallery interactive experience produced for the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art 2012 exhibition “Decorative Arts at the World’s Fairs.” Over the course of the exhibition, these objects were activated 35,069 times, resulting in 4,235 minutes (over 70 hours) of visitor interaction.

installation photos

Interface Design

Computer-Generated Object Animations


Long Chair No. 313
1939 Golden Gate International Exposition // San Francisco, California

» Known as “the Pageant of the Pacific,” the 1939 world’s fair in San Francisco was intended to support unity among Pacific nations. This fair marks a hopeful moment prior to America’s entry into the Second World War.
» The 1939 world’s fair in San Francisco showcased the use of natural materials, in contrast to the future-focused New York World’s Fair held the same year.
» Hungarian-born American designer Marcel Breuer brought his Bauhaus sensibilities back to the forest with this particular piece.
» The design and appearance was progressive, but it also served a utilitarian purpose.
» According to its manufacturer, the chair was ergonomically shaped to provide “scientific relaxation to every part of the body, immediately creating a feeling of well-being.”

Tiffany Lamp
1900 Exposition Universelle // Paris, France

» The 1900 Paris World’s Fair demonstrated the technological marvels at the dawn of the 20th century. Talking films, escalators and the world’s largest refracting telescope made their public debut at this fair.
» The world-renowned glassmaker Louis Comfort Tiffany was a prominent exhibitor and this lamp shows off the Art Nouveau designs that he shared with fair visitors.
» Tiffany had a patented production process involving hand-blown Favrile leaded glass. His unique workshop of designers, including both men and women, created glass works with iridescent surfaces cast in rich colors and hues.
» This process transforms the functional form of a lamp into a highly modern decorative object.

Elkington Vase
1876 Centennial International Exhibition // Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

» The 1876 Philadelphia world’s fair was designated to be an “international exhibition of arts, manufactures and products of the soil and mine.” It was an unofficial celebration of the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
» Designed in the English workshops of Elkington and Company, this vase and its pair borrow from both Japanese and European cultures.
» Each honors the design aesthetics of their respective cultural influences. On this particular vase, note the chrysanthemums and a Japanese carp and a European songbird and bellflowers on the other.
» Unlike traditional cloisonné, this vase was made by first indenting the exterior form, which creates a relief for the main imagery. The form is then electroplated, enameled, and polished to reveal metal at the top edges of these cloisons. This process creates an effect typically done with bent wire or metal.
» This work is an example of uniquely fusing cultures, as well as traditional and contemporary construction techniques.

Coupe de Rivoli
1867 Exposition Universelle // Paris, France

» The 1867 Paris world’s fair was the result of a three-year planning commission initiated by Emperor Napoleon III in 1864.
» A year prior, Napoleon III also commissioned a pair of centerpiece bowls from the renowned Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory. Ancient Greek culture was popular in France at the time and the style is reflected in both the form and the subject matter of the Coupe de Rivoli.
» Adorned with teal urns and gilded copper fronds, the piece features four panels that depict the star-crossed lovers Daphnis and Chloe.
» These panels were rendered in puce-colored enamel that was mechanically scraped away in a faux cameo style to reveal each scene, a technique comparable to the preparation of an engraved printing plate.
» Although the Coupe de Rivoli and its pair were displayed at the 1867 fair, they were not delivered until 1870 due to the extraordinary labor required to produce the objects.

Pianoforte and Stool
1867 Exposition Universelle // Paris, France

» Among the 50,000 exhibitors at the 1867 Paris world’s fair, the English firm of Jennens & Bettridge was the best at what we consider a familiar and simple construction process: papier-mâché.
» The works of Jennens & Bettridge — including their grand creation, the 1867 Pianoforte and Stool — could hardly be called simple.
» It features four distinct front panels of foiled aluminum (a new material for the times) covered in beads and placed under glass. Mother-of-pearl inlays are placed directly on the surface of the object and covered in layers of varnish to produce a smooth surface.
» The main construction involves applying layers of fragile yet highly durable glued and compressed paper pulp over a wooden core. It is covered in linseed oil and tar spirits to protect it from moisture.
» This piece demonstrates how papier-mâché was used to construct objects of great design and scale.

Herman Miller Vanity and Ottoman
1933 A Century of Progress International Exposition // Chicago, Illinois

» The 1933 Chicago World’s Fair was squarely focused on the theme of technological innovation, promoting the motto, “Science Finds, Industry Applies, Man Adapts.”
» The fair buildings were multi-colored, creating a “Rainbow City.” This contrasted the “White City” of the previous World’s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893.
» American designer Gilbert Rohde featured this work in the Fair’s “House of Tomorrow.” It is made out of bent chromium-plated tubular steel, wood, Bakelite, and an unadorned mirror. The form and style reflected the architecture of modern skyscrapers at that time.
» The Herman Miller Company, the Vanity and Ottoman’s manufacturer, is still known for designing modern industrial furniture, especially interior office decor.