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Diva Works’ NEXT 10 Most Memorable Exhibits From World Expo Dubai

The striking exterior with the falcon wings that had lift up panels revealign solar panels
11. The “Look Up” Award: Finland

Many sales offices increasingly have soaring ceilings as part of their design. Finland gave a master class on how to deal with large expanses of tall ceiling spaces so that it’s exciting and leads your eye upwards. Cascading fabric scrims billowed overhead with strip AV screens showing montages of the Finland natural landscape. That’s all well and groovy providing the “WOW” overhead. Still, audience engagement was not forgotten about as both screen interactives and graphics were placed at a comfortable viewing height for the peep.s This sort of layering of information is super intelligent – giving you both impact and detailed information. There was a lovely coda to the Pavilion. When you exited the Pav, you were drawn through an open timber-lined courtyard with curved walls that formed a cone with a beautiful opening to the sky. This Pav was all about looking up and being amazed at what you see.

12. The “Get Bent” Award

Here’s the Russian Pavilion.
I didn’t go inside. I was worried I’d encounter a multitude of images of Putin wrestling bears, sans shirt, and I’m Team Bear. (This was before Putin – international disgrace and unhinged megalomanic – invaded Ukraine).

Instead, I want to highlight the bravery and grit of the Ukrainians in defending their homes and country from the Russian Invaders. The footage out of Ukrain is horrifying, and what it must be like to live through it….my god. Mundane daily tasks like feeding your family while your neighbourhood is turned to dust under relentless bombing, trying to provide some normality for your loved ones…I got no clue how the Ukrainians are enduring this. The divas have donated to https://www.savethechildren.org.au/donate/more-ways-to-give/current-appeals We’re feeling so helpless right now but giving money to charities providing care, housing and food to the Ukrainians is the least we can do.

Intriguing external facade. Totally undone by the Russian President being a power-hungry depot
13. The “Speaking of Get Bent…” Award: China

So obviously, I was hanging out on Tyrant Boulevard – first the Russian Pavilion and now the China Pavilion.

But I come bearing happy tidings, fellow Australians. China gives scant regard to our small and humble nation; they are off to dominate space! Their Pavilion was a grab bag of ideas and disjointed themes, but overwhelmingly, it was about SPACE. And China in SPACE. China doing all the SPACE.
Bless.

Look, there are fewer people in space to get excited when you start building your own islands in contested international waters, so I get it. But what seems to be about the glorious exploration of space reads more like “reckon there’s iron ore on Mars…yeah?”

14. “I have no idea what is going on here but I still like it anyway, Award”: Austria Pavilion

So I had an existential crisis in the Austrian Pavilion.

A multitude of cone shapes was gathered together with a number of them having their peaks open to the sky. This allowed sunlight – and the possibility of rain – to stream in. The cone shapes also encouraged natural cooling through the Pavilion. The internal space was sublime – the cone shapes wrapped you in a warm cocoon with tapering light changing the density of the colour as you moved throughout the space. In the base of one of the larger cones, there was an undulating timber floor that you laid on and looked…up. And that’s where I had my spiritual awakening, looking through the moon roof into the vast blue beyond. My past and my future converged and I was reminded of my smallness in the great universe. It was very moving. I immediately went and got ice cream to celebrate my new consciousness.

15. The “turn the lights off” Award: Malaysia Pavilion

The Malaysian Pavilion turned the lights off to let the AV and the specialised lighting treatments become the feature. Upon entry, there was a room with thousands of acrylic suspended rods….that when you put your phone on the touch screen surface created a really cool Instagram backdrop. By having such a dark interior, all your focus was on the displays and messages. Projected images were cast onto cubes balancing on their edge. Very cool and engaging!

16. “Consistently Amazing” award: Germany

There’s a reason why the German Pavilion is the one with the longest queues: because they are so great. The design, architecture the way the information is presented so creatively and entertainingly is an absolute stand out. Another thing that is striking: is the use of illustrations over photos in graphics. There was a Covid Ball Pit that Ikea would have been proud of, projection onto angled rods and reflective surfaces so the City display could be viewed on all sides. Education on key themes was dominated by interactives that engaged all the senses and didn’t just rely on the typical touch screens. A memorable display was in the darkened hall with slowly moving arms that had a series of thin AV screens showing environmental initiatives. The final hall featured a series of swings that you sat on and as you swung, the near-field technology beacon picked up your registration device and your name was projected on the wall nearby. It was a poignant experience swinging (no, not like that) in the room and seeing the names and home city of you and your “swingers” come up on the walls. The divide between strangers melted away as we were able to greet your nearby “swingers” by name.

17. The “Jawdropper Pavilion” – United Arab Emirates

Well of course the host nation kicked the doors off it and delivered a stunning pavilion inside and out The facade consisted of white falcon wings wrapping around it. The wings did double duty as they also held solar panels that powered the internal display area. The whole experience was well thought out with timed sequencing. The Disney principle of “Keep the queue moving and people won’t riot as they believe they are advancing” was employed here with you moving down the ramp past serene pools with trees submerged.

And once you got inside the cool oasis that resembled a bedouin tent, the initial response was “WOW…JFC!” The history of the UEA was projected onto shards rising from actual sand dunes. An immersive vertical Imax-style cinema was the centrepiece and told the story of the modern UAE family through illustrations. Once you exited the cinema, you emerged into an expansive area that had angled LED screens showcasing UAE ingenuity. It was a flawless pavilion. The striking exterior together with the UAE story told simply and with heart using unusual methods like projection panels submerged into sand and LED screens set at crazy angles was a standout. Well played, UAE. you understood the assignment.

18. “Escher’s Dream” Award: Morroco

This pavilion was so intriguing. An express lift ride to the top and then you walked down internal ramps where you could break out into vastly different rooms that displayed past history and modern Morroc life. The rooms were small but through the savvy use of mirrors, rooms doubled in size and up became down with ceilings lined with mirrors. So many surfaces were richly detailed with patterns – it was such a contrast to the external restrained facade. While not every gallery space landed, there was a lot of spirit in the telling of stories and showcasing Morroco’s ingenuity.

19. The “slick, but in a good way” award: Switzerland

The outside of the building was a trip!   A fully mirrored facade only revealed the name of the pavilion that was printed onto the red carpet in front, when you moved closer. Ah, those Swiss tricksters!  The sense of delight didn’t stop there because once you were inside the main gallery, you were immersed in a serene mist forest with the sounds of storms breaking around you. It was such a lovely oasis. There was a series of ramps you walked up while mist blew in, obscured some views and opened up others.   I was in Dubai during the coolest time of the year but I reckon this Pavlin would be heaving during the hottest months, it would offer such respite from the relentless Dubai heat. Well played Switzerland!

20. The “It could have been so much extra” award: The USA pavilion

Dunno about you but I get a bit cringy when I see the USA market themselves on the world stage. It can often drift too far towards “we have the BIGGEST of everything”. And I GET IT. Jaw-dropping National Parks. Tech and innovations that have changed our lives for the better and the invention of the greatest gift to humanity: Rock n’ roll. Look, If I had all that as my opening act, I’d be insufferable too. But because the USA know how good they are, what can they bring that’s new to win over hearts and minds that (rightly) see and have direct experience of the underbelly of the USA? Well, you can start with a lovely warm message from Kamala Harris and then jump on board the travelator past American icons like their sporting greats, the Declaration of Independence, the hand of Liberty and you can remind China that space is not yours alone to claim (read: exploit). Overall not a groan-fest and some lovely moments to remind you that the USA is still a really big deal.

To sum up my time at the World Expo Dubai, I have SO many great ideas for my clients’ sales offices; including new ways to use graphics, using unusual finishes, incorporating interior architecture to produce an engaging customer journey, customer-targeted audio-visual and interactive displays, and ideas to communicate effectively and memorably through displays.

Reach out if you want the benefits of this fresh design inspiration on your next sales office project. I can be contacted at fiona@divaworks.com.au Event URL: https://www.expo2020dubai.com

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