"Immersive virtual world" by Gareth Pugh
and Inition installed at Selfridges

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Visitors to London department store Selfridges can take a virtual reality tour created by technology company Inition inside a helmet by fashion designer Gareth Pugh (+ slideshow).

Gareth Pugh and Inition Monolith virtual reality installation at Selfridges

Gareth Pugh worked with Inition to create a "multi-sensory experience" called Monolith, installed at Selfridges for the Festival of Imagination taking place this month.

"The inspiration for this piece really came from the desire to create a totally immersive experience," said Pugh. "I've always believed in the importance of fashion film and new technology as a means of communication."

Gareth Pugh and Inition Monolith virtual reality installation at Selfridges
Visuals seen during the virtual reality experience

The visitor enters a soundproofed booth and completely covers their head with a pointy black helmet, which Pugh designed specifically for the installation based on costumes he created for the Royal Ballet.

Gareth Pugh and Inition Monolith virtual reality installation at Selfridges
Visuals seen during the virtual reality experience

Using an Oculus Rift virtual reality display embedded in the headpiece, the wearer is taken on a journey through monochromatic cityscapes, undulating walls and figures with silhouettes that are also similar to Pugh's costumes.

"It's an abstract narrative based on Gareth's life, his works and his experiences," senior creative at Inition Alex Lambert told Dezeen.

Gareth Pugh and Inition Monolith virtual reality installation at Selfridges
Visuals seen during the virtual reality experience

Once geared up, a 360-degree white environment is visible all around. "When you're inside [the headpiece] you are transported to another world," said Lambert. "It's a totally immersive, full 360-degree virtual world that you can look around."

Gareth Pugh and Inition Monolith virtual reality installation at Selfridges
Visuals seen during the virtual reality experience

The experience begins when staring at a spinning black cube found in the artificial world. "Aesthetically it looks very similar to Gareth's work, and as soon as you look at that cube and it spins for a certain period of time it starts," Lambert explained.

Hand rails are installed around the sides of the compact space in case the user loses their balance during the experience. Industrial music by London artist Matthew Stone accompanies the visuals.

Gareth Pugh and Inition Monolith virtual reality installation at Selfridges
Visuals seen during the virtual reality experience

The chamber is located in Selfridges' menswear department on the first level, next to a selection of Pugh's garments.

The project was developed as one of a series of experimental installations and pop-ups at the Festival of Imagination that runs all this month, as well as to coincide with the London Collections: Men fashion event that took place in the British capital last week.

Gareth Pugh and Inition Monolith virtual reality installation at Selfridges
Visuals seen during the virtual reality experience

Inition also collaborated with Dezeen to create an augmented reality shop at Selfridges for the festival, which features Zaha Hadid's superyacht design and watches from our online store.

Other projects around the store include a temporary auditorium in the basement designed by OMA.

Here's some more information sent to us by Inition:


Experience fashion designer Gareth Pugh's virtual reality journey at Selfridges

Creative production company Inition produces a mind-bending virtual reality experience launched by Selfridges to mark fashion designer Gareth Pugh's first appearance on the London Collection: Men's Schedule.

Gareth Pugh and Inition Monolith virtual reality installation at Selfridges

The Monolith installation includes a futuristic cutting edge immersive journey into the inspirations and aesthetics of the acclaimed designer’s vision for his new collection.

Gareth Pugh says: "The inspiration for this piece really came from the desire to create a totally immersive experience. I've always believed in the importance of fashion film and new technology as a means of communication, but the team at Inition were able to propose a new and exciting way for us to approach this project. It's an exciting opportunity to re-imagine my aesthetic in a totally new context."

Gareth Pugh and Inition Monolith virtual reality installation at Selfridges

Pugh worked with Inition 3D artists to ensure the multi-sensory experience truly reflected his inspirations.

"This was a very exciting project to work on, as it was very creatively led but also had a number of new technical aspects that needed to be overcome in order to achieve the desired feeling that Gareth wanted to convey," says Inition senior 3D artist Lee Spooner.

Gareth Pugh and Inition Monolith virtual reality installation at Selfridges

After entering a soundproofed chamber, users wear a characteristically geometric Gareth Pugh VR headset, which harnesses Oculus Rift technology to bring the 3D visuals to life. Virtual reality has never been used in a retail setting in such a way before.

With hand rails provided in case of momentary loss of balance, the two minute futuristic fashion film and part fairground ride begins, featuring monochromatic cityscapes, undulating walls and signature stark shapes, all underscored by an industrial gritty sound track produced by London based artist Matthew Stone.

Gareth Pugh and Inition Monolith virtual reality installation at Selfridges

Inition has been producing virtual reality experiences since 2001 but with recent advances in technology, imagination can now be less constrained, as perfectly illustrated by the Gareth Pugh's Selfridges installation.

"Our history of creating bespoke experiences using emerging technology platforms was a natural fit with the pioneering work of Pugh and the innovative approach to retail taken by Selfridges. This is a market with huge potential for digital technologies and Inition is delighted to be pushing boundaries within this space," says Ainsley Henn, Producer at Inition.

Gareth Pugh and Inition Monolith virtual reality installation at Selfridges
Monolith installation from the outside

"It was nice to be able to let our creativity and imaginations run free, and early on we had a good understanding with Gareth about the direction he wanted this immersive experience to take," says Lee Spooner.

Gareth Pugh continued, "The title, Monolith, is the perfect description for this piece: something singular and imposing, and in some way otherworldly. I imagine that each person will view it differently, but I would hope that it's something memorable and engaging. Ultimately the installation requires a little commitment, you need to step into that world - from the padded sound proofed booth to the angular head piece required to view the installation… they're all considered parts of this unique experience."

The Monolith installation is now open to the public and is located in the Menswear department of Selfridges (London) on Level 1.