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Annabelle Schneider creates immersive VR installation with touch-reactive fabrics

Promotion: experience designer Annabelle Schneider has created Presence In Bed, an installation made from textiles and soft furnishings, which aims to blur the "digital and physical realms".

The site-specific installation, named Presence In Bed: An Immersive Virtual Reality Meditative Experience was designed by Schneider to foster self-awareness in both the digital and physical space.

It aims to create an interactive space that alerts visitors to be present in the moment, with the aim of improving wellbeing.

Photograph of Annabelle Schneider wearing temperature-reactive weavings
Annabelle Schneider created an installation that includes hand-woven temperature-reactive weavings and hand-dyed colour-changing sheets

Schneider's installation aimed to get visitors to engage with the present by resting on a bed and experiencing a three-minute VR experience that includes an "intensifying sonic landscape" informed by speculative design, surrealism, hyperreality and glitches.

The physical installation featured a bed of wall-to-wall stacked mattresses made from reactive surfaces – thermochromic sheets and emergency foil – which prompted users to also focus on their physical environment by enhancing the tactility of their surroundings.

Hand-woven recycled medical foil
Hand-woven recycled medical foil is intended to communicate the state of emergency society is currently living in

"Design elements that lean into the dazzling qualities of reflection and light to create a soothing atmosphere in the sanctuary of the bed," said Schneider. "While in the virtual, one sneaks from your digital superlative into a deeper universe found in between the sheets."

"Larger scaled traces, paired with affirmations and intensifying rhythms to natural cycles found within our physical body."

According to Schneider, both materials interact and react with the touch of the human body and aim to communicate the "state of emergency we're living in while placing alerts of being present – mentally – in a multisensorial way".

Full-body-sized pillows hand-dyed with thermochromic pigmen
Full-body-sized pillows hand-dyed with thermochromic pigment, change colour when touched

The VR experience featured "sensory triggers" such as immersive sound produced by Grammy-award-winning producer collective Basscharity, accompanied by mindful, vocal affirmations, animation, lighting effects and tactile materials to enhance the user experience.

In the creation of the installation, Schneider was informed by the work of architectural historian Beatriz Colomina, whose work explores the role of the bed in the digital age.

People experiencing the installation
The immersive experience featured a bed made from reactive materials and included hourly live performances, which explored the bed as a "multifunctional space"

Schneider is a Swiss-born designer based in New York with a background in branding, spacial installations and event design.

The designer aims to create work that speculates about the social-cultural changes and how "living" in both physical and virtual spaces affects our wellbeing.

"A thought-provoking immersive experience that puts all focus on the bed as the total place of collapse – where tactile materials blend with advanced tech," said Schneider. "Together they create a multisensorial space of sanctuary and home in which wellbeing must be achieved."

Someone's foot sticking out of a bed
The bed sheets react to a person's touch and leave a mark of their presence

"Working at the intersection of art, technology and spatial design, I aim to choreograph user journeys throughout spaces," said Schneider. "I believe social behaviour and change stand in dialogue with good design."

"In this sense, I relate to spatial concepts of interior futures. Speculative designs that foster forward-thinking ideas of how we can improve our everyday life by, for instance, meshing the physical experience with technology more critically and humanely," Schneider continued.

Presence In Bed was presented as part of the design event NYC x Design 2023 in May 2023.

To learn more about Schneider's work, visit her website.

Partnership content

This article was written by Dezeen for Annabelle Schneider as part of a partnership. Find out more about Dezeen partnership content here.