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Sight Unseen OFFSITE: The perfect marriage of technology and art

New York Design Month is jam-packed with over 500 official events on the NYCxDesign calendar, in addition to the perennial International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF). With so many events and so little time, brands and designers were challenged to create unconventional presentations and one-of-a-kind experiences in order to be memorable (both IRL and on social media). This year, exhibits featured innovative technology from 3-D printing to virtual reality, but not all of them were buzzworthy. Making my list of notable shows was Sight Unseen OFFSITE, which showcased the perfect marriage of technology and art.

In their fourth year, Sight Unseen OFFSIGHT is a 4-day showcase of 25 up-and-coming designers, curated by the online magazine of the same name. This year, the brand teamed with online art purveyor, Twyla, for a unique VR experience. The booth displayed seven limited edition prints, each with its own Samsung Gear VR headsets. Once wearing the headsets, viewers were immersed in a 360–degree room inspired by the piece of art. Room themes varied from Classical Remix to Global Minimalism to 70s Chic, designed in collaboration with art director Tom Hancocks.

GLOBAL MINIMALISM

CLASSICAL REMIX

Approaching the booth, I did not know what to expect, but when I put on the VR headset, I was transported into an interior space that frankly the videos provided by Site Unseen do not do justice. I was able to explore individual parts of the room and I felt like a guest in someone’s slightly dizzying digital home. My personal favorite was the 80s Japan room, which featured artwork by Yorgos Stamkopoulos. This room had gridded walls, neon lighting, terrazzo surfaces and sleek contemporary furniture from Shiro Kuramata.

80s Japan

Twyla’s booth was my most memorable feature of the Sight Unseen OFFSITE show because it quite literally added another dimension to art viewing. The look on my face while under the VR goggles must have been priceless because I emerged with a giant smile and multiple cameras taking my photo.  I immediately wanted a headset for my own living room so that I could change the décor when I pleased. And with the price of VR equipment becoming more accessible to the consumer every day (Samsung’s Gear VR Headset retails around $130), virtual reality in every living room might soon become actual reality.

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