The Lush Creative Showcase took place within the iconic Manchester Central building, covering a footprint of 17,317 sqm and attracting more than 3,000 visitors each day. Not only was the event the biggest in Lush’s history, it was by far the biggest single event that PDS has ever produced. It took a combined effort of 177 crew, 34 trucks and weeks of design and pre-production to pull off the unimaginable extravaganza that was the Creative Showcase.
‘’It’s not very often that a production company gets the chance to work on a project of this size involving this level of creativity, design and technical elements. We were over the moon when we were asked to be the sole production supplier for the event”, says PDS Director James Johnson. ”PDS have enjoyed working closely with the Lush events team, providing production support to their UK and Europe based events for the past four years, but this creative showcase firmly raised the bar both from a design and production scale point of view’’.
From a technical point of view, we assigned department heads and designers across all disciplines; lighting, audio, video and rigging. Designers worked closely with both the Lush team and our in-house event designers, to make sure all disciplines worked together seamlessly throughout the whole process. Due to the scale of the event, we pulled in the expertise of a few close friends in the form of; Knight Rigging Services to provide all overhead rigging, Anna Valley to provide LED video walls and control systems, Isophase Audio to provide additional audio requirements, DLM Event Services to provide the rigging automation and IPS to provide the Layher structures.
"Not only was the event the biggest in Lush’s history, but it was also by far the biggest single event that PDS has ever produced".
A double storey Fun House was the immediate focal point when entering the space, a playground for adults and children alike. We created an interactive journey for guests to experience. Entering through a long oobleck trough in which visitors were invited to walk barefoot to experience the strange sensation of a seemingly liquid product that turns solid underfoot. The journey then took you to our custom wobble floor which was constructed to showcase just how wobbly the Lush jelly products really are. Then up to the soft play cushions stairwell to the top floor where we had created a mirrored walk through to a bubble brush station. Bubble shoots generated a continuous and constant flow of bubbles, which guests could paint on, to create bubble art. The experience ended down one of our slides with an automated light show into a pile of bean bags. Sounds pretty fun huh!
‘’The Fun House featured the most creative and densely packed lighting in the central hall. Featuring Clay Paky B-Eyes, Martin Sceptron and LED UV pars along one corridor alone’’, says PDS Lighting Designer, Iain Hewitt. ‘’The slides on the exterior of the experience each had a laser beam trigger which sent midi triggers to the Quartz. Through this, the eight Robe Robin LED 150 Beam units alongside each slide would cascade down along with the slider’’.
When Lush came to us with the concept of bath bomb hot air balloons, we in true PDS style embraced the idea and thought yes of course we can achieve this, if you can dream it, we can make it happen is our moto after all. Our first port of call was to call in help from our friends at DLM Event Services, who specialise in automated rigging solutions. With their help we came up with the design for three 6m hot air balloons that would fly out to a height of 15m. Each basket had a maximum capacity of two people, along with custom designed lighting and audio elements within each basket. Each basket was custom designed and built and underwent strict load testing, as they were carrying members of the public. To achieve the giant inflatable balloons, we employed some help from an inflatable specialist, Imagine Inflatables. Each balloon landed on a custom raised platform, with one being fully DDA compliant for wheelchair users. The balloons were a huge hit over the two-day event, causing a constant queue of customers excited to go up and take in the view.
Guests were welcomed into a multi-sensory dreamscape to launch Lush’s newest products #Lushmood. The mood products are designed to evoke a sense of transformation within the customer’s state of mind. The concept for this space was to create a multi-sensory space for customers to take some time out and become fully immersed within the environment. Guests could get a first look at innovative and new products from a series of demo stations that were positioned around a raised platform featuring falling rain within the centre. We designed a bespoke sound and lighting scape where the colour and mood of the space dramatically changed every 30 mins. Blended projection also played a key part in the audio-visual concept with the use of 10 x Panasonic RZ21K projectors, projecting onto elegant white lycra sails.
Isophase Audio provided four ground-stacked TW audio PA towers which were positioned in all four corners of the room to give a sense of depth and clarity to the audio production. ”The scale of the event meant that the audio infrastructure required careful consideration. Each area had diverse audio requirements, from small experiential installations to a full band production”, says Isophase Managing Director, Pete Sharman.”Particular attention had to be paid to the design of the PA systems for the Exchange and Central Halls. There were a total of 13 discrete systems for separate areas within the same space.
Cross talk and spill needed to be minimised in order for all areas to run concurrently. Isophase Audio designed all the systems from their stock of TW audio speakers powered by Powersoft X series amplifiers, as well as utilising PDS’s stock of Nexo and RCF PA systems”.
Lush’s ‘Under the umbrella tree’ bath bomb was the inspiration behind our ingeniously inventive rain frame. The brief required rain to be falling in the middle of the space and for guests to be able to walk under it with an umbrella. The first significant issue for us was that rain, in its natural sense, falls at a very random rate and in order to create natural rainfall we needed to make something that would randomly disperse the water. We designed an inventive solution whereby we made a grid of perforated pipes with the jets pointing upwards. These jets then hit aluminium deflectors that then dip rain droplets in a heavier, more random manner than jets just pointing down. Each valve was individually controlled to ensure an even spread of rain across the area. We installed a 10m dia. circular stage in the centre of the room with a 6m x 6m x 0.5m water tank in the centre which recycled its own water rather than making a pond. So that guests could walk across the space, we built a galvanised steel grid structure over the top of the tank to allow people to dance in the rain.
A platform for talks from a whole array of inspirational guest speakers to discuss topics spanning human rights, animal rights and the environment. The design brief was to create an ‘inside/outside’ structure that people would ‘want to go inside’ and ‘felt inviting’ but also felt like it was outdoors. The wooden structure was built in sustainable softwood and recycled plastic with real grass turf flooring. We complemented the in-house setup and equipment base with our operators and technical equipment.
The Lush showcase was viewed in 32 languages across the globe, it had one week of mentions via the hashtag and the highlights video produced over 30,474 views. To give you a sense of the scale of event the Hair and Skincare section alone was the width of the Arc de Triomphe! Lots of miles walked by all members of our team that week and unbelievably this event was accomplished from design to install in just four weeks!
‘‘’We were asked to provide an unprecedented amount of production elements, both from a technical and creative design point of view. Whether it was a custom-made rain frame manufactured and installed to showcase the new “mood” products or the three-giant inflatable “hot” air balloons that would take guest 15m up in the air so they could get an overview of the event. PDS designed, built, planned installed and de-rigged it all’’, says PDS Director, James Johnson. ”Creativity is at the core of who we are as a company and why we all get out of bed and come to work every day. It’s safe to say that everyone thoroughly enjoyed working on the Creative Showcase and we think we did a pretty amazing job’’.