Storytelling Pod

“How might we encourage deeper interactions among visitors and the Academy?”

The storytelling pod was designed for the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. It was a collaborative project with Adelaida Mejia.

After talking to the Academy scientists and observing and interviewing children moving through the aquarium, we found they were taking away very little factual information about the exhibits because of an inability to focus on one exhibit for any length of time.

We decided to create a semi-enclosed space that would offer a pause in the hectic, loud aquarium environment. The shape of the pod echoed the large, circular aquariums around it, and had a high ceiling to keep it from feeling claustrophobic. We made soft furnishings for the pod based on animal shapes, but each was ambiguous enough to stand in for several different animals. The materials used for the pillows and props were meant to simulate different animal skins and textures and we invited children to touch, pick up, and squeeze all of the props. An undulating LED stage light piqued children’s interest as it changed the pod from sea green, to warm yellow, to electric blue.

image from a prototyping session