In a competitive and increasingly sophisticated marketplace, the problem is always how to differentiate yourself from the competition.

You have an established reputation, a product that works, and looks good, but so does your competition.

The obvious problems of marketing are amplified in the arena of trade exhibitions, and collective displays such as the recent Galleria during Sydney Indesign (August 15-17) – an enormous three day ‘speed dating’ event which had hundreds of products on display and offered participants only a few seconds to grab the attention of the audience.

In such settings, sophisticated displays of products assail audience members from every direction, and no matter how good a product, it can easily get lost in the visual overload of competing displays.

Troy Creighton, managing director of Stormtech, contacted Rice Daubney with a proposal to collaborate for ‘The Project’ at Sydney Galleria, which encourages designers and makers to think outside the box.

storm comp

Stormtech’s Marc Newson designed grates in five finish options: stain stainless steel, satin black, white, pearl brass and blue. The Installation was erected off site and transported to the event.

Rice Daubney embraced the challenge of showcasing Stormtech’s latest Marc Newson designed grate in a different way, and had to think of a unique and interesting solution to stand out from the crowd. Developing an ‘outside the box’ concept to deliver a literal ‘inside the box’ design, the company wanted to create a product to highlight the process and relationship between design and manufacturing.

Stormtech manufactures high end Australian drainage solutions which work and do not need to be explained to customers. They look good, and are simple and functional. The Marc Newson grate incorporates the designer’s signature tessellated hexagonal pattern.

Two different ideas drove the design of Rice Daubney’s and Stormtech’s installation: 

Firstly, by putting it all inside a box (actually a shipping container), The Project offered the elements of an interactive peep show. Viewers were encouraged to peer into the big black box, and were surprised by what they saw.

Secondly, the companies drew on what every teacher has had drummed into them: “doing, not watching, is the key to remembering”  and created an interactive display that encouraged people to walk through it, to be part of it instead of simply being observers.

Inspired by a recent exhibition – Random International’s Rain Room at the Barbican in London – the team’s ‘Perfect Storm’ concept considered interactive mechanisms such as motion detectors to vary the display as people moved through it, possibly combined with some random elements to catch them unaware.

Due to constraints of budget, time and space available, this was simplified to a static but visually chaotic maze of water sprays through which people could walk without getting too wet.

storm comp

‘Inside the Box’ ‘The Perfect Storm’ installation with mounted illuminated linear grates that form a path through a continuous rain-like maze.

‘The Perfect Storm’ was undoubtedly one of the most interactive portions of the show, attracting the most interest by industry professionals and the public.

“Judging by the shrieks, photographs and number of people returning with their friends to do it again, there was enough involvement to make it a memorable display,” recalled Simon Grimes of Rice Daubney.

“I think we achieved a perfect outcome, we fundamentally made drainage cool”, added Rice Daubney’s Julia Sutcliffe.

Marc Newson is considered to be one of the most influential designers of his generation. He has worked across a wide range of disciplines, creating everything from furniture and household objects to bicycles and cars, private and commercial aircraft, yachts, various architectural commissions, and signature sculptural pieces for clients across the globe.

In May 2013, Stormtech’s 65MND25 model from the series received the ICFF Editors Award for best design (Kitchen and Bath category) at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York.

By Simon Grimes and Julia Sutcliffe