Nestlé’s nest takes visitors on a journey through time
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
‘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.
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.