Otherworld is a project that bridged the gap between Red Deer’s commercial work and art-based installation pieces. It was the Dream Corporation's first permanent space which allowed an opportunity for the practice to contribute to the refinement of their identity as a London-based games arcade in 2019.

The brief for the project was to create a threshold from the physical world into the virtual. The concept we created was developed to alter visitors’ sense of reality, to design a convincing terminal for departure and to challenge traditional typologies. Red Deer orchestrated an interdisciplinary approach to the design, collaborating with a lighting designer, fashion designer and specialist fabricators.

The work of James Turrell and Dan Flavin provided inspiration on how to combine lighting and architecture to physiologically alter our sense of location. It followed that in order to approach the design of a space dedicated to the virtual world we must disrupt the visitors' experience of the physical world. Red Deer chose light to be their main focus as it allowed the practice to explore this breakdown in perception.

A bespoke lighting system of almost 7000 individually addressable LEDs was installed, all controlled and mapped centrally. Neon was replaced with an LED equivalent to ensure colour control. The subtle use of light on the arched ceiling or the overt use of lighting at the bar emphasizes the consideration that went into the placing of each light.

With regards to innovation and flexibility, by stripping it of its colour, the venue is conceived as a vessel for flexible spatial reprogramming. This enabled the client to continuously morph their environment, projecting their software into the space and onto its surfaces, ensuring a state of flux; a fluid visual experience.

In regards to functionality and user-friendliness, anthropomorphic proportions of the specialist joinery items were introduced to facilitate interaction between guests in the communal F&B spaces. The envelopes of the individual immersion chambers embrace the inhabitants to create convincing virtual environments with the use of special effects like heat, wind and vibration.

VR is an emerging technology and this was an exercise in bridging the virtual world with the real, creating a threshold between the digital and the analogue. It required a rethinking of a traditional space for eating and drinking, which ultimately, in this case, takes second place to this new technology.