29rooms: InTouch sensory tunnel
Refinery29 / Whisperlodge
WHAT I DID:
concepting, writing, experiential
A multi-sensory tunnel that guests experience blindfolded, with only binaural sound and touch to guide them.
For their fourth year of 29rooms, Refinery29 wanted to give the audience a taste of something beyond the expected beautiful Instagram backdrops.
We were approached to create a multi-sensory tunnel as one of a few featured “phone-free” room experiences under 2018’s theme: Expand Your Reality. I partnered with Melinda Lauw, co-creator of Whisperlodge, to devise a fantastical narrative that was in line with Whisperlodge’s core tenets of relaxation and sensory exploration.
Guests were blindfolded and given headphones with our binaural audio story to guide them, then made their own way down the tunnel. By taking away their sight, our goal was to make them fill in the visual details with their mind’s eye—though Refinery29 helped us fabricate a very Instagrammable tunnel anyway!
Section 1: in line
The first section acts as a UI onboarding and narrative intro. The guest makes their way forward using the handrail to guide them. We included a surprise of the handrail moving high (so they must reach up) or low (so they must stoop) in order to follow it, to break their mind out of its baseline expectations.
Section 2: rocky cave
The railing soon ends, and the wall turns into a cave face. Guests must feel their way from rock to rock while their headphones pipe binaural sounds of earthy echoes and their own footsteps venturing deeper in.
Section 3: Waterfall
The rock wall starts to get damp as falling water noise plays on the audio track. Guest are instructed to pause and enjoy the freshness of the waterfall mist on their face. Ceiling misters lightly spritz guest on the hands and face.
Section 4: Garden in the summer
The wall is now freshly mown lawn grass studded with scented flowers. The audio track instructs the guest to feel around for a flower, smell it, and imagine its colour. Then it shifts their focus from themselves to society around them by asking them to imagine what colour others have seen in their mind’s eye.