Nestlé’s nest takes visitors on a journey through time

Overview of the main piazza by day
All images credit Mike Bink

The story of Nestlé is charted from the humble beginnings of founder of Henri Nestlé to a multinational company in a new exhibition. Anna Mitchell explores nest with experience design agency Tinker imagineers.

When  food  and  drink giant  Nestlé  wanted to  showcase  its  roots  it  decided  to  build  an  experience  around  the  humble 19th century building in Vevey at Lake  Geneva  where  the  company’s  founder,  Henri  Nestlé, established his first factory in 1866. 

The world’s largest food company started work  on  the  project  in  2012,  four  years  ahead  of  a  2016  opening  that  was  scheduled  to  coincide  with its 150th anniversary. However, the project  ran  into  trouble  when  two  years  later  Nestlé  became  concerned  with  the  route  the  designs  were taking. 

“With coolux Pandoras Box we can make theatre without people.”
In an attempt to rescue the vision Nestlé got in touch with Tinker imagineers, a Dutch design  agency already engaged in a project with one of  Nestlé’s daughter companies in Switzerland.  

“Nestlé wanted a second opinion,” notes Michel Buchner, creative technologist at Tinker.  “They said ‘show us what you would make of it’.  So we did and we got the project. But that meant we only had two years to complete it.” 

In the end Tinker  spent  25  months  on  the  project, ensuring that everything was in place for  the official opening on June 2, 2016. 

“The project really began when Nestlé bought back  the  holy  ground  of  Henri  Nestlé,  the  building where he started,” explains Buchner.  

Concept-Consult  Architects, a Swiss architecture firm, was engaged  to  renovate  the original  heritage site and cover it with a glass roof and  steel construction, creating a space with a floor  area of 6,626m² with 3,500m² of exhibitions.  It was Tinker’s job to create the world inside.  
Children watching VR
 Tinker’s role extended to bringing a team of  more  than  ten  companies  -  comprising  more  than  100  developers,  engineers  and  builders  -  together  to  realise  scenography  with  a  budget  of  €10  million  (total  investment  architecture  and interior: €45 million). Mansveld Projecten & Services (NL) was brought in to handle AV and lighting hardware and programming. Bruns (NL) was selected for engineering and production of scenery and fit out. 

“We  recommended  the  partners  based  on  experience,” says Buchner. “For a project to work well the companies need to know each other. It  really helped that all the partners we brought in  to the project were based in the Netherlands and  that we had worked with them in the past.” 

With part of the building newly built and the  old  building  completely  stripped  back  under  the  direction  of  the  architect,  the  Dutch  team  was  able  to  reconstruct  everything  regarding  the experience from scratch; building routes for  cabling  and  areas  for  all  the  technology  that  needed to be hidden from view.
“We  had  restrictions  in  terms  of  heat  load  because in Switzerland  passive  cooling  systems  are  compulsory,”  notes  Buchner.  “We  had  to  adapt  equipment  such  as  LED  projectors  to  reduce the heat load on the building.”
Message wall with brid cutouts
The  story  of  Nestlé  is  unravelled  across  five  different  zones  under  the  motif  “care,  enjoy,  improve and share”. 

Tinker historians worked together  with  the  team that manages Nestlé’s archive to design the  content.  “We reconstructed the facts  from  the  history and discovered the roots of the company.  It was really exciting,” says Buchner. 

Visitors  are  guided  through  the  experience  with  an  audio  guide  from  German  manufacturer  Tonwelt.  Apart  from  some  loud- speakers  for  ambient  noise  this  is  the  sole   method for audio delivery.  

“The  integration  of  the  audio  device  from  Tonwelt  was  a  completely  new  thing  for  me,”  says Buchner. “And for Tonwelt it was only the second time they had installed it on such a scale.  All audio content comes from the audio device and it is synchronised from the exhibits by RF/IR and timecode. That’s the big trick. It’s amazing what Tonwelt achieved ensuring the appropriate content is played at the right time and is perfectly  lip-synced.” 

He continues: “The system is on a completely separate network. There’s a PC with a timecode so if the PC is activated for a game then it starts running and links back to the audio device which  starts  playing.  Visitors do  everything  with  this  device and that was new for us too. We had to  think about how the conventions worked, such  as  finding  out  if  people  looked  at  their  screen  where  we  provided  instructions.  Some  people  didn’t look at the screen so we had to find ways  to tune that up.” 
The  experience  is  managed  and  controlled  with  Creston  CP3  and  RMC3  control  systems  and TSW-750 touchscreens. A huge deployment  of Brightsign media players is used throughout   the  exhibition  to  manage  playback  of  various   AV content. 
Visions showing projection on white surface
The visitor journey starts with the Piazza in the  central atrium that links all the areas together.  Here,  a  life-sized  tree  blooms  with  more  than  1,200  flowers  handmade  from  Nestlé  product  packaging to symbolize the start of 150 years of  history. Also a 16-screen Samsung videowall was  installed  here  using  an  Extron  IN1606  scaling  presentation  switcher  and  Bright  Sign  XD1032  digital signage player.  

From the Piazza people enter ‘Fondations’ in the first factory building. This authentic, timed  attraction was designed to tell visitors about the  company in the 19th century All show control is  handled by Coolux’ Pandoras Box, which was the  only  technology  specification  Buchner  gave  to  Mansveld saying: “Let’s work around this system  because  it  allows  us  to  make  theatre  without  people.”

The innovation at Fondations lies in the use  of  early  cinema  techniques  developed  during  this period. It combines effects such as shadow  play, magic lanterns and ombres chinoise. Coolux  Pandora’s  Box  from  Christie  controls  the  show,  lights, video, doors and scenery and was used for  visualisation in pre-production phases.   
Projection in Fondations
This  part  of  the  exhibition  goes  through  five  rooms,  many  of  which  use  subtle  projection  techniques to create various effects. In the room  representing  the  old  laboratory  of  Henri  Nestlé  seemingly static blackboards and drawing boards  are  brought  to  life  with  Panasonic  PT  series  projectors.  

Another  room  tells  the  story  of  the  Page  Brothers  who  built  Europe’s  first  condensed   milk  factory.  A  mixture  of  Canon  and  Casio  projectors  combined  with  BrightSign  media  players create a range of effects.  The final room delivers a 360-degree  projection  using  Canon  WUX6000 units.  

The next zone, ‘Zeitgeist’, covers 150 years of  Nestlé  history,  looking  at  products  and  linking  the images and stories behind to iconic moments  in  world  history.  This  part  of  the exhibition  occupies  two  storeys  and  includes  a  treasure  room with objects such as the prototype for the first Nespresso machine. 
People sitting around round table in Forum
‘Forum’  brings  visitors  into  the  present  day  using  interactive  approaches  to  encourage  visitors to consider social challenges in nutrition  and  health.  Visitors’ actions influence a light installation at the heart of the room controlled by Pharos equipment.  

The exhibition finishes with ‘Visions’, a space under the glass roof that symbolises the future.  

‘Visions’  is  the  grand  finale  of  the  experience,  the  design  was centred on the use of white  flowing  forms,  a  spectacular  world  under  the  glass  roof,  which  symbolises  the  future.  It  houses ten pavilions, linked  together  with  the  use  of  Barissol,  a  white  stretch  fabric  that Buchner describes as ideal  for  projection.  A  mixture  of  Canon WUX6010 and Panasonic  SpacePlayer  and  PT  series  projectors  were  used.  Each  pavilion  has  a  video  “pebble”  where  a  scientist  talks passionately about a related scientific field  with  videos  controlled  by  Brightsign  networked  media players.  

The first pavilion features a double projection  showing a video about scientists and run by a  Coolux Pandoras Box dual player. Other pavilions use  Microsoft’s  Kinect  to  power  interactive  games. Five HTC headsets, locked to two hanging base stations, are used to deliver a 360-degree  film. One of the pavilions even uses eye-tracking from Tobii for an interactive game. An immersive  display experience, powered by six projectors, is  housed in the ninth pavilion. 
Immersive cinema watched by children
When  the  tour  is  over  visitors  descend  a  stairway to be presented with the ‘Engagement  wall’  –  a  huge  twitter  message  wall  -  where  their  Tonwelt  audio  device  is  activated  and  they are prompted to provide feedback on their  experience of nest. Their message is relayed to the wall where  a  lighting  sequence  starts  and  their text appears on a bird cut out.  

White LED  tiles  and  eight  video  screens  are  used behind the bird cutouts. A Pharos lighting  controller  is  used  to  control  lighting  and  a  PC  controls the display of messages.  

Buchner  describes  the  design  and  delivery  of  the  project  as  a  fluid  process.  “We made proposals, we discussed them with the client, we changed and we delivered different iterations of  the initial ideas. 

“For example, in the beginning we had plans to use industrial robots and moving displays for  the historical part  but it didn’t feel good. In the end that idea transformed into the shadow play  because we felt that was more subtle and in line with the theme.” 

Before  the  opening  Nestlé  staff  were  given  training on operating the system and Mansveld  is  on  hand  for  24-hour  support.  “Mansveld  designed the control system and user interface  and  have  created  a  very  clear  Crestron  programmed environment that makes it very easy  for the client to manage,” says Buchner.  
Nest was  also  designed  to  offer  multiple   uses. By day the experience is open to the public but in the evening the space can be rented out  for events.
Brightsign media players  
Canon WUX6000, WUX6010,WUX400ST and LV-WX300S  projectors 
Casio XJ-M256 projectors 
Chrisite coolux Pandoras  Box 
Crestron CP3 and RMC3  control systems and TSW- 750 touchscreens 
HTC VR headsets 
Microsoft Kinect 
Panasonic SpacePlayer and PT series projectors 
Pharos lighting control
Samsung displays  
Tobii eye tracking  systems 
Tonwelt audio guide