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Experiences that made me Oliver Cobb

06 October 2022

A bit about me

Enthusiast of all things art and design with a penchant for vinyl. Love a good East Coast oyster and BBQing sausages with a beer in hand.

The creative experience that’s influenced me the most…

Certainly, an influential experience was my first time at the freshly opened Ministry of Sound (showing my age here!). The gritty journey to Elephant and Castle, the anticipation of getting past security and then finally being enveloped by the incredible sound and atmosphere within ‘The Box’ - a music space born out of function with no frills.

Ministry of sound work

That feeling of being transported from everyday life and being enveloped by something new and different is a great reference when designing new experiences, whether they are virtual or physical or both. The exclusivity factor, or FOMO, is certainly another interesting area.

My industry hero is…

It's hard to pinpoint one person or group. I love projects that mix art with design and interactivity, so the work of Olafur Eliason, Jason Bruges and UVA (United Visual Artists) are all great areas of inspiration.

The piece of work I’m most proud of…

The Old Forester Distillery. We created a permanent bourbon visitor experience within the shell of an old warehouse in downtown Louisville, where the company began in 1872.

As well as working with a great team (and client), it was great to design an experience that juxtaposed old and new elements, plus playing with materials germane to the process of making bourbon. There was a wealth of stories and historical content, plus unusual requirements such as using explosion proof fixtures, which was a learning experience! The opportunity to work on a big B to C project versus B to B was great. It was exciting to see it voted as one of the top ten visitor attractions in USA Today.

The piece of work that makes me cringe…

When I was freelancing, I worked on the glass room for Kylie Minogue’s overly raunchy waxwork figure. It was a time when Madam Tussauds were trying to get in the press with slightly controversial installations. Her waxwork whispered ‘Can’t get you out my head……it was awful. But it made the Daily Mail!

The experience I wish I had created…

Thomas Sarecono “Free The Air: How to Hear the Universe in a Spider/Web.” A multisensory performance inside a giant dome structure, where visitors essentially floated on a vibrating wire mesh net to experience a concert of terrestrial and cosmic vibrations(!). A thought-provoking concept and an amazing and immersive installation, that happened earlier this year in NYC at the Shed.

Advice to my 18-year-old self…

Trust your intuition and don’t overthink an idea, stay inquisitive and passionate about all things creative. And stop smoking!

What’s next?

We’ve just started work on another bourbon distillery experience for another brand, this time set within 100 acres of rolling countryside in Kentucky. There will be a Japanese Whiskey Distillery project too that’s connected to the same brand, collaborating with KKAA, who recently designed the Tokyo Olympics Stadium. Should be fun!

Oliver Cobb, Head of 3D Design, Imagination New York