The Dream Cube at The 2010 World Expo by ESI Design

Press Release:
ESI Design, a pioneer in the field of experience design, previewed the Shanghai Corporate Pavilion for the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai. Opening on May 1, the 40,000 square-foot Pavilion, known as the “Dream Cube,” encourages visitors to participate in an impressive multimedia experience comprised of cutting-edge technology, dreamlike environments, collaborative social spaces and sustainably designed materials.

Inspired by the citizens of Shanghai, the Dream Cube leads visitors through a beautiful story of the city’s past, present and future. The experience also transforms moment-by-moment via the spectators’ collective participation. Crowd-sourced photos uploaded by the public at the Dream Cube website blend with stunning video on immense media walls. Beds of glowing LED crystalline reeds change color with the sweep of visitors’ hands. A 360-degree interactive theater showcases the audience’s gestures and physical actions, which trigger dramatic changes to millions of LED lights on the Dream Cube’s façade. In these and many other ways, the Dream Cube promises to set new trends for future designs of World Expo experiences and other large-scale public events.

“The inspiring story of Shanghai, from its ancient past to its limitless future, is a story about the transformation of the city and its people,” said Edwin Schlossberg, principal designer at ESI Design. “We wanted the Dream Cube design to astonish visitors, while offering them personal ways to participate in its dramatic transformation over time.”

The Dream Cube Experience
Inside the Dream Cube, visitors travel through a 20-minute journey inspired by fourth-century Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi’s dream that he was a butterfly (or, alternately, a butterfly dreaming it was Zhuangzi) – a perfect metaphor for transformation. The amazing journey starts as visitors queue beneath the massive, yet ethereal structure, where thousands of LED rods pulse with light. From the queue, visitors ascend on an escalator, surrounded by bluish light and atmospheric music, into the heart of the Dream Cube. There, they stroll along the “Dreamer’s Path,” a visual story of the city of Shanghai through time – from a small rural village to a vibrant mega-metropolis. Along the path, interactive areas fill with flying butterflies, changing seasons, crowd-sourced images of city life, sculptural lighting and surprise video “portals” that respond to visitor interaction.

The path ultimately leads visitors into a massive circular theater — the Dream Cube Control Room — where they gather to participate in a 360-degree interactive video experience narrated by the famous actress and director Xu Jinglei, who plays “Professor Butterfly” in the Dream Cube story. The giant screen immerses the audience in the sights and sounds of Shanghai through stunning visual flyovers and special effects, while Professor Butterfly invites them to reflect on the challenges and opportunities facing Shanghai. She praises the strength of Shanghai’s citizens and encourages them to work together to create a better city for all. In the final climactic moments, Professor Butterfly reveals live-feed images of the exterior façade, as she rallies the crowd to wave their arms high in the air. In lively response, the Dream Cube’s exterior pulses with color in time with their collective actions, sweeping them up in the emotional and transformative power of collaboration.

The Dream Cube is sponsored by more than 30 corporations under the State-owned Asset Supervision and Administration Commission of the Shanghai Municipal Government, and was constructed by the Shanghai Guosheng (Group) Company Ltd. It was designed by ESI Design in collaboration with Architect Yung Ho Chang and Atelier FCJZ. The Dream Cube’s world-class production team includes Spinifex (media production) from Australia, PRG (systems integration) from Germany, Full Flood (lighting) from the U.S. and Pico (exhibit fabrication) from China.

About ESI Design
ESI Design is one of the world’s foremost experiential design firms that creates social spaces and communication platforms that help clients and their audiences interact through the power of collaboration. Clients include GE, Pfizer, Best Buy, Boston Museum of Science, Ellis-Island Statue of Liberty Foundation, Mercy Corps, World Monuments Fund, and many other organizations. For more information, visit


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