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Exterior corner view of DLR Group's BDNY 2022 convention booth with textural living wall and green drapes around seating area

Setting the Stage for BDNY and Beyond: Designing a Better Reality

Valentina Castellon

The exhibits at BDNY are unlike others you’ve seen at past trade shows – and the immense creativity, time, and investment each vendor puts into their space create a one-of-a-kind experience at every corner. For our team, it took six months, eight vendor partners from around the globe, and hundreds of sequentially cascading installation decisions. Bringing the ambitious “Better-verse” concept into reality meant dedicating 72 hours to bring the installation to life on-site at York City’s Jacob Javits Center.

Welcome to the Better-verse

So – what is the Better-verse? Our team coined this term to describe an enhanced new reality – one where technology and traditional design are dovetailed to create a better reality. The two can’t survive on their own, and we used their different aspects to produce an immersive experience that shows just how impactful the blended experience design is. Books, movies, and music have given us a glimpse into the impossible. Why can’t we tap into the never-ending possibilities of film, literature, and music to push our bounds and conventional perspective on the world we live in and bring it to life ourselves – to physically live in and virtually experience?

Inside the booth, green floral drapes hang over mixed seating. Crowd faces speakers, left. sculptural lighting. Orange next section

Although the trade show took place during an East Coast winter, all remembrances of the cold and uber-sleek aesthetic of the outside environment faded when guests entered our space. As our digital landscape grows, its characteristics challenge our natural universe. The design approach of the booth is to inspire designers to design for real spaces, to reclaim and celebrate our actual domain, yet embrace digital interjection for artistic exploration.

Immersion through Exploration

Our team and partners utilized earth tones, biophilia, and dramatic lighting to entice visitors into a sultry scene akin to a secret garden or a secluded outdoor space at dusk. The scene throughout the weekend felt luxurious but also approachable – we wanted to create a space where people could tap into their creativity and socialize but also feel comfortable and relaxed as they moved through our exhibit. Trails within gardens lead visitors to unknown but welcoming passageways, encouraging them to explore and feed their curiosity; that’s exactly what we hoped to evoke in our space.

Navy woven cushioned chairs in corner of room with layered fabric partition walls. Greenery on floor, pocket wall accent, and hanging light

It wasn’t a one-stop shop where visitors could view everything at once, take it in, and leave, but rather an immersive experience around every corner. We placed soft seating adjacent to colosseum-style seating brought to life with biophilia allowing guests to socialize in different spaces between panel events. At the same time, the raised perch gave an elevated view of the speakers themselves. It was overgrown with a lush garden scape as if to reclaim its prominence in our reality and express a reflection of tension in human advancement and the earth’s never-ending quest for restoration. The overhead canopy animated the space with soft lighting, emphasizing a floral pattern that made the main room feel cozier and more intimate without confining the area.

Welcome to the Future

Woman uses virtual reality in all white wintery room with ice shard style sculptures and organically curving candelabra lights

While traveling further into the rabbit hole, a final pocket of soft seating sprinkled with sprouting flowers from the carpet met guests with a glimpse into the nucleus of the exhibit, the “better-verse” experience. The final passageway blended into space that completely juxtaposed the surrounding aesthetic and conjured a feeling of futuristic possibilities pairing a VR experience to overlay the built environment. A white, contemporary lounge chair surrounded by icicle-like lighting and origami-like décor conveyed a sense of the potential of the future – the Metaverse. While relaxing on the lounge chair, guests and passersby had the opportunity to experience a virtual reality that further explored the possibilities of design, rejecting the limits we are tied down to in our physical reality. A final warmer, earth-toned landscape with an almost desert, psychedelic feel for guests to explore the connection between nature, interior design, and technology and reflect and converse in a more muted, relaxing environment.

Hallway room within the BDNY booth with marble curtain walls and ceiling illuminated from the opposite side and pendant lights

From the Metaverse to augmented reality, growth in the digital landscape challenges the natural universe. Better-verse reclaims the physical realm and reconnects visitors with the sensory delights of changing seasons. Thoughtful digital interjections aim to supplement reality rather than expand visitors’ consciousness with playful exploration.

Explore more of the Better-verse:

Learn more about our experience with Boutique Design magazine.

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Valentina Castellon
Connect with me to start a conversation ➔ Valentina Castellon, Hospitality Interior Design Leader


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