Mischer'Traxler's interactive Curiosity Cloud installation is "like being in a dream"
Small Discoveries: Viennese design duo Mischer'Traxler explain why they filled a room at London's V&A Museum with hundreds of fluttering insects in our latest movie for Champagne brand Perrier-Jouët.
Called Curiosity Cloud, Katharina Mischer and Thomas Traxler's installation for Perrier-Jouët consists of 264 suspended blown-glass bulbs, each of which contains a hand-made model of an insect.
The installation lies dormant when there's nobody around. But the bulbs light up and the insects inside start fluttering against the glass as soon as visitors get close.
"It's an interactive installation," Mischer says in the movie, which was filmed by Dezeen at the V&A. "Once you approach, all the insects in the glass bells get a bit afraid and start moving."
The installation contains 25 different varieties of insect, including a mixture of common, endangered and newly-discovered species.
Each insect is attached to a motor at the top of the bulbs with a thin wire. Thermal imaging sensors around the installation trigger the motors when they detect visitors' presence.
"You're constantly followed by the movement of the insects and the light," Traxler explains. "Each of the 264 glass bulbs holds a specially designed circuit board, which can be individually controlled."
The installation emits a loud buzzing sound as the hundreds of flying creatures hit the sides of the suspended glass vessels. Mischer'Traxler varied the size of both the bulbs and the insects, creating an ensemble of different tones.
"Being in the installation is a bit like being in a dream," Mischer says. "Suddenly you have all of these elements moving around you and all of this swirling sound. So it creates really a magical moment."
Curiosity Cloud is the latest work by Mischer'Traxler for Perrier-Jouët, whose famous Belle Epoque bottle was designed by Art Nouveau artist Émile Gallé.
At Design Miami last year, the designers created a kinetic installation called Ephemerā, which featured a table covered in plants that disappeared as visitors approached.
They also designed a limited-edition Champagne flute, which causes bubbles to stream from a small engraved moth at the bottom of the glass.
"Perrier-Jouët's heritage is very closely interlinked with Art Nouveau and they asked us if we could put that into a contemporary setting," Mischer explains.
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Traxler adds: "We wanted to focus on insects because in Art Nouveau there were quite a lot of insects used in marquetry and furniture pieces."
Curiosity Cloud is part of a year-long collaboration between Mischer'Traxler and Perrier-Jouët called Small Discoveries, which Dezeen has been documenting. You can watch all the movies here.