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Stories Designing POP: The Warhol Factory experience in the 21st Century

Our friends at The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa are currently exhibiting Warhol: Immortal, co-organized with The Andy Warhol Museum.

As part of this collaboration, the Museum of New Zealand are working with a team of design students to create a contemporary response to the exhibition. This guest blog post was written by one of the students – Celeste Holmes – of Massey University’s Open Lab in Wellington, New Zealand. Visit the original post on Te Papa’s site here.


A group of eight students from Massey University in Wellington have this amazing opportunity to work with Te Papa and Open Lab, to deliver a youth focused event which responds to the Warhol: Immortal exhibition

Open Lab is a design studio within Massey University. Open Lab is a collaborative environment and practice, where specialist and emergent designers work alongside clients to realize outstanding design responses.

Day One: We met with the audience engagement team at Te Papa and were briefed on the project. We were given a guided tour of the Warhol: Immortalexhibition. Having someone talk us through the exhibition helped the group understand the history behind Andy Warhol’s works and life. The guided tour was priceless, revealing to us an experience we would like to provide for everyone who attends the event.

Brainstorming. © Open Lab
Brainstorming. © Open Lab

Back in the Open Lab studio we began the creative process; searching through books and the web for concepts that would help inspire us. We then began smothering the studio wall with lots of potential ideas for the event. We then narrow it down to just a few (drag queens, UV face painting and helium balloons just to name a few). From here our concept develops.

To see how some of these ideas might work in the space we returned to Te Papa. Working in the space helped us to solidify and rule out ideas allowing us to then start mocking up what we imagined for the event. Here’s a sneak peak into some of the types of activities we imagine to be happening in the space.

Glowing balloons create an interactive space before people step into the elevators. © Open Lab
Glowing balloons create an interactive space before people step into the elevators. © Open Lab
Paparazzi entry to event. © Open Lab
Paparazzi entry to event. © Open Lab

We wanted the promotion for the event to be fun and unexpected to grab people’s attention and make them want to come to the event. Check out the balloon popper that we made using a CNC mill instead of a laser cutter. The CNC mill made the edges of the popper sharper than a laser cutter would. We’ve had lots of fun popping balloons!

There is still a lot to be done and we’ll be blogging about our process. So keep an eye on the blog for updates, information on purchasing tickets and more.

POP on Facebook

POP, Wednesday 31 July, 8pm–10.30pm at Te Papa!