Jean-Paul Gaultier exhibition at the Barbican


The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk

This theatrically-staged exhibition brings together more than 165 cutting-edge couture and ready-to-wear garments including iconic costumes for film and performance from the early 1970s to the present day…. More on the Barbican website

Aside from the amazing outfits of course, one of the most outstanding features are the animated mannequins whose expressions are at times a little surreal but nonetheless contribute to the exhibition the theatrical setting. This short film shows some of them but it’s best to see them first hand.

Gaultier animated mannequins

The curation and design of the exhibition successfully create an immersive atmospheric journey into the world of Gaultier, not always an easy thing to achieve in the galleries of the Barbican. The visual and acoustic senses are well represented though I was surprised that scents weren’t art of the experience since Gaultier has quite a few perfumes under his name. The experience continues in other parts of the Barbican, notably with the Gaultier bar on level 1, open for cocktails in the evening.

Last lecture for this year’s Spatial Communication Programme Lecture series

The Spatial Communication Programme presents Silvia Grimaldi, on experience, surprise and narrativity

Dates: 11 March 2014


Tuesday 11 March 5.00-6.00
Main Lecture Theatre

Silvia is Course Leader on BA (Hons) Spatial Design at London College of Communication, and in the past ran the BA (Hons) Graphic Product Innovation at the same college. She works as a designer, researcher and academic and runs her own company, Nimble Critters, with which she developed the ETree, a range of interactive electroluminescent lighting in small production and exhibited worldwide. Her research focuses on product experience, narratives and emotional design, and she is now working on a PhD entitled Designing Narrative Product Interactions.

This presentation and discussion of Silvia Grimaldi’s work is part of a series of events organised by the Spatial Communication Programme Group as a platform for the discussion of future developments in the field. Key thinkers and practitioners working across boundaries and at the cutting edge of their disciplines have been invited to present their work at LCC.

Sensing Spaces: Architecture Reimagined

By Valerie Mace

On Thursday 27th of february 2014, we took LCC BA Spatial Design students to the Sensing Spaces exhibition at the Royal Academy. The RA invited 6 architectural practices from all over the world to create a full size pavilion/installation each in the gallery spaces: Alvaro Siza and Eduardo Suto de Moura (Porto, Portugal), Grafton Architects (Dublin, Ireland), Kengo Kuma (Tokyo, Japan), Li Xiaodong (Beijing, China), Pezo Von Ellrichshausen (Concepcion, Chile), Diebedo Francis Kere (Burkina Faso and based in Berlin, Germany).

We spent the afternoon exploring each installation and also investigating their effect on people including ourselves. Each pavilion offered a different gamut of sensory experiences and each provided a fully immersive experience. We were able to move through them, interact, play, touch, smell (and the corresponding taste), listen, etc. Sometimes it was moving, other times it was fun and at times intriguing even surprising.

We completed the visit with a lively discussion where everyone was able to express their personal impressions and perceptions. It would be very difficult to choose a favourite pavilion, each has wonderful qualities that can only be fully understood by first hand experience and active participation. We all agreed however that it was a unique and memorable experience and also that we learned a lot about the rewards of multi-sensory experiences in spaces. This is something we are very keen to explore further in the interior and surfaces of future spatial design projects on the course, looking this time at how we can enrich our sensory perceptions of everyday spaces and places.

A one of the Course Leader of the BA (Hons) Spatial Design and someone whose research interests focus on Spatial Experiences and more specifically senses and atmosphere, I’m attending a few other events linked to the exhibition. So far I have been to a talk on the making of the exhibition by the Curator Kate Goodwin and another talk on Staging Sensory Experiences with Chandler Burr, Bombas and Parr and Jo Malone. All fascinating and really insightful.

I have still to look forward to a full day’s symposia and sensing spaces on the 29th of March and I hope to be able to revisit the exhibition before it closes. The symposia is sold out but it is possible to download the full schedule at the bottom of the site’s page.

Silvia speaking at Narrative in Practice 2013: Creative Symposium

Silvia Grimaldi wioll be Speaking at

Narrative in Practice 2013: Creative Symposium
2 November – 9.00 to 5.30
St Luke’s Community Centre, 90 Central Street, London, EC1V 8AJ

Narrative quote:

“Narrative plays a central role in the way we interpret and communicate our experience of the world and our interactions with it. Narratives help us organise events and make sense of time, empathise with others and move us on an emotional level. Because of this, using an object is not only an experience, it is an interaction and it is narrative in nature.”


About the talk:

I met Narrative through Surprise. I was working on a project for my master’s thesis, looking at how surprise could be used within product design on a level that went deeper than novelty, to create interesting or meaningful experiences through the objects. While working on the project and writing about it after I realised that creating surprises within the user’s experience of the object inherently creates a temporal aspect, a before and after. There is a state of expectation before the surprise, and by definition the surprise needs to change this state to a different one.

This led me to be more interested in ideas around interpretation of objects over time, and designing the experience of an object as opposed to the object itself. Narrative seemed like a useful tool in order to help organise these experiences over time as well as give meaning and richness to these object experiences.

My PhD Designing Narrative Product Interactions looks at how narratives can be used to enhance both the design process and the user experience of object. In particular it takes films as a starting point and analyses which elements from the film, such as characters, structure, meaning, emotional reactions, etc., could be used by designers within product experiences.

The final aim of my PhD is to come up with a series of guidelines to help designers think of the product experience in a narrative way and to design tools for designers to use within the design process which can help to create highly tellable objects. Highly tellable objects should lead to user experiences with high narrativity, which will be more prone to being experienced, interpreted, remembered and retold with gusto.

Invitation downloadable here Invitation Narrative in Practice 2013  and more information on the website


Silvia Grimaldi presents paper at DPPI 2013

Silvia spent the last year working on a collaborative paper with Steven Fokkinga of Technical University Delft (The Netherlands) and Ioana Ocnarescu of Bell Labs/Strate College Paris (France), entitled Narraties in Design: a study of the types, applications and functions of narratives in design practice. The paper surveys different uses of narrative within the (broadly product) design process and the user experience of objects, to explore a different way of looking at the user experience of objects as a narrative experience.

This resulted in a conference paper for DPPI 2013, Designing Pleasurable Products and Interfaces. The conference was co-located with Research Through Design, contained within a meta/conference entitled Praxis and Poetics. This was at the Baltic in Newcastle at the begining of September, and there were some great speakers and exhibition materials.

The conference website is here and you can also download the full paper from here

Spatial Experience

Valerie Mace is a Senior Lecturer in interior and spatial design within the Faculty of Design at London College of Communication. Working across the boundaries of design disciplines, recent projects include a 3D diagrammatic mapping of London College of Communication, a speculative project for branded environments and a case study of the Medicine Now exhibition at the Wellcome Collection in Euston, London.

She is currently participating in curriculum development within the Spatial Communication programme at LCC, including a study of visualisation and investigative methods that facilitate the exploration and expression of human emotions and perceptions within real world environments, to be presented at the EVA (Electronic Visualisation and the Arts) conference in July 2013. She is also working on a research project on interior practices in urban environments.


Click on the link below to listen to the talk I gave at the Royal College of Art:

Spatial experience


SPATIAL EXPERIENCE – An insight into environmental perceptions

The lecture proposes that life itself is a performance and considers the notion of space not simply as a physical entity but as an event. Starting with observations on identity, cultural ideologies and communication, the proposal unfolds to provide an insight into environmental perceptions and atmospheric qualities, and includes examples of experimental projects designed to develop environmental awareness and spatial experience.


Merleau-Ponty M., (2012 ed.) Phenomenology of Perception Routledge, New York.

Gibson J. J., (1986) The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception Psychology Press, Hove.

Pallasmaa J., (2005) The Eyes of the Skin. Architecture and the Senses. John Wiley and Sons, Chichester.

Malnar M. J., Vodvarka F., (2004) Sensory Design University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis

Van Schaik L., (2008) Spatial Intelligence. New Futures for Architecture. AD Primer. John Wiley and Sons, Chichester.

Lefebvre H., (1991 ed.) The Production of Space. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford.

Zizek S., (2006) How to read Lacan Granta Books, London.

Freud S., (2003 ed.) The Uncanny Penguin Classics, London

Zumthor P., (2003) Atmospheres Birkhauser, Basel.

From some of the people who attended…

Hi Valerie,

I attended your lecture at the RCA today which I enjoyed very much. I was going to ask you a question but you looked at little busy so I thought I would email instead.

I shot a photographic series last year, the focus of which was signage and I have recently been revisiting ideas around the project, to uncover things I had overlooked. The photos themselves are technical, large digital composites shot as panoramics, but its the method I found each location which now seems important. I obsessed over each location, virtually (through satellite imagery and street view), sometimes for years because they were in America.  When I eventually visited the chosen locations, I often experienced a strange sense of deja vu, a space never before visited by very familiar to me.

I’m researching this relation between psychological state, space and mapping, and wondered if you had any suggestions for further reading?

Many Thanks,

Dominic Hawgood, Visual Artist

Dear Valerie,

Hello my name is Bohyun, 1st year student majoring in Service design at RCA.
It was really great to being on your lecture today. I had to skip one meeting for that but I’m so glad I did.

As I mentioned after the lecture, currently I’m doing project for the Sainsbury for innovating customer’s supermarket experience and got to very interested in developing environmental awareness like you said. It would be really grateful if I can also get reach to the paper having the list of books you recommended as I don’t have any contact at the Information design programme, which is shame. And you also mentioned about BBC radio programme regarding ‘perception & sense’. I wonder if I can still get hold of it if I go the the BBC website.

Actually, I was very inspired today more than anytime before in RCA as I was very interested in knowing what comprise of the unique atmosphere of each site but I haven’t got any chances to learn or practice properly about it from my programme. Please let me know if you are going to give lecture to public or do any lecture which are allowed to students from other university, I would love to listen your lectures once again.

Oh yes, and will you also tell me some of museums in london you’ve suggested to visit? I was trying to take a note of your slide but I couldn’t see very well as I was sit at ‘Background’ not the ‘foreground’.

Thanks a lot. I look forward to hearing from you.

All best,


Hi Valerie,

I just wanted to send an email to say thank you so much for talking to me about my work and about the kind of projects you get involved in. Your talk was really inspiring and getting to speak to you after was a wonderful  opportunity. I was feeling quite concerned about my direction and potential role in a career and you were so encouraging and really gave me the boost I needed to get some faith back.

Thank you so much for giving me your time, I really really appreciate it. Hope to be in contact soon,

Best wishes,

Polly O’Flynn