SWATCH PAVILION, EXPO ’98
Interactive Exhibition Graphics
The second Swatch project I worked on with a team led by Pfau Architecture was an open-air pavilion for the World Expo in Lisbon, Portugal. Developed in collaboration with artists, consultants, and fabricators, the pavilion featured interactive, water and watch related exhibits that highlighted Swatch fashion and technology. I was charged with developing an immersive, watery yet vibrant, graphic narrative that would run throughout the building and exhibits. It had to work in a range of applications, from billboard-sized graphic scrims to text heavy exhibits like “51 Parts.”
The opportunity allowed me to stretch out as a designer. Compared with the Swatch pavilion for the 1996 Olympics this one revealed its contents more slowly, with greater interactivity and a more fully integrated graphics program. Almost every surface had some graphic component which meant I got to work with a wide range of techniques and materials for production: screen printing, large scale photo prints, applied vinyl, water-jet cutting, and most unusual to me, black and white paving stones, or calçada portuguesa, for the clock face design on the plaza that connected the pavilion to the main promenade.
The Swatch clock tower housed a retail store, and electrical and mechanical systems on the ground floor with a VIP lounge upstairs.
Printed vinyl scrims enclosed the open-air exhibit floor.
The entrance ramp led visitors past the Swatch Historical collection—every watch ever released by the company since 1983, displayed on vertically mounted conveyor belts.
A series of cloud shaped exhibits describe Swatch Access—micro technology embedded in watches that can communicate with networked computers. It has been used for event ticketing, room keys, and electronic payment. Visitors to Expo ’98 could purchase their passes in the form of a specially designed Swatch Access watch.
A periscope was among the kid-friendly interactive exhibits in the pavilion.
Artists who had designed watches for Swatch were the focus a series of videos that could be triggered by touch pads.
“51 Parts” showed the design of the Swatch's inner workings with an exploding 3D model.
And “Scuba Divers” highlighted Swatch's water-resistant watch line through interactive pressurized tubes.
“Water Music” by interactive media artist, Paul DeMarinis, used water as a medium to conduct sound through specially designed nozzles. When visitors positioned their umbrellas below the streams of water the sound information was amplified—revealing voices, rhythms, and melodies.
Pavilion visitors exited through a retail space onto a plaza with additional watch displays. The plaza surface, a clock face design, was made using traditional Portuguese paving stones.