Pentagram has designed The Art and Science of LifeWear: New Form Follows Function, a major new exhibition in London for Japanese clothing brand UNIQLO.
Held at the Embankment Galleries in Somerset House, the large-scale immersive, experiential event showcases UNIQLO’s popular LifeWear concept from three perspectives: Art, Science and Craftsmanship.
LifeWear is simple, high-quality, everyday clothing designed to be both practical and beautiful. Pentagram developed the entire experience for UNIQLO, including the exhibition identity, graphics and advertising, video content, exhibition design, installations, interactive experiments and sound design. The exhibition spans approximately 750 square metres and is divided into themed zones showcasing LifeWear’s core values of innovation, quality, value and sustainability.
Pentagram developed the visual identity and graphics for the exhibition as well as marketing and advertising materials. Inspired by UNIQLO’s FW19 season styling theme ‘New Form Follows Function’ both the identity and the exhibition design make use of modernist grid systems. The identity includes new iconography for each of UNIQLO’s key products and technologies as well as many of the areas and experiments in the exhibition.
The exhibition starts with a graphic timeline created by Pentagram charting the story of UNIQLO, and visitors can explore five different zones as they move through the exhibition’s two floors. Throughout the ground floor of the Embankment Galleries, the walls of the exhibition are made from fabric light-boxes evoking Japanese Shoji architecture and carrying the exhibition identity and graphic content. This approach allowed the design to be installed without touching the gallery walls and the light-boxes can be reused, meaning that the approach delivers on UNIQLO’s wish to be sustainable.
The first large-scale installation visitors encounter comprises of 192 different items of UNIQLO LifeWear clothing arranged in a colour vignette, hung in front of 5 metre high video wall with an animation developed by Pentagram, using bespoke code which sorts over three thousand items of clothing from Uniqlo’s FW19 collection into grids of colour or clothing type.
In the upper galleries, visitors experience a large-scale installation designed to demonstrate the lightweight qualities of UNIQLO’s AIRism fabric, visitors enter a six metre-long area filled with hundreds of floating strips of fabric that people can touch as they walk through the space.
Following this UNIQLO’s innovative LifeWear technologies AIRism, Ultra Light Down, Blocktech and 3D Knit are explored via a series of science experiments created by Pentagram. The experiments are interactive physical displays housed in open frameworks supported by video content. These demonstrate LifeWear’s different technical qualities including breathability, lightness and water resistance.
The craftsmanship behind UNIQLO clothes is showcased in five open wooden ‘tent’ structures which are covered with different fabrics – these feature Uniqlo’s signature jeans, its knits and its shirts.
Visitors can also explore a multi-sensory mirrored room which is filled with 50 hanging lamps made from UNIQLO socks in 50 different colours. The lamps pulse on and off in time to a unique music composition created by Pentagram, creating an atmospheric space which shows UNIQLO’s more playful side.
Sound plays a key part in the exhibition, with each area having its own composition. Unconventional percussive sounds, originating from industrial noises and machinery used to tell the story of UNIQLO LifeWear. As visitors move through the space, there are seamless changes in atmosphere and feeling. There is a core DNA to the different sounds, which manifests in different ways to represent the unique values of UNIQLO.
Pentagram also created areas to showcase UNIQLO’s FW19 season stylings as well as its sustainability programs and full-size dioramas to showcase UNIQLO’s UT graphic T-shirt collections including collections from Dragonball Z, Andy Warhol and Keith Haring. The exhibition includes a digital installation by Rhizomatics to showcase UNQILO HEATTECH technology and a pop-up store in partnership with NTS radio, selling limited-edition T-shirts and hosting events and workshops.
The project is a multi-disciplinary collaboration between three Pentagram partners and their teams, working directly with UNIQLO’s Creative Director Takahiro Kinoshita and his team.