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Inspiration: Pink Floyd, Their Mortal Remains

We are often asked what inspires us. We are constantly looking at the world around us to inform our event design. So far in our Inspiration series we have reveled in the atrium of the new Design Museum and discovered Japanese architectural design at The Barbican Centre. This month, we head to the Victoria & Albert Museum to gain inspiration from one of the world’s music greats at the Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains exhibition.

Much like Pink Floyd’s music and infamous shows, the exhibition was mesmerizing; from the moment we walked in, it was like we had entered the minds of the contemporary music geniuses themselves.

Floyd always strive for perfection. The combination of technology and musicianship has to be total

Tony Stewart, New Musical Express, January 1972

One of the first things you see when entering the exhibition is a quote from the late John Peel; “They could have joined the audience at one of their own gigs without being recognised.” The exhibition was exceptionally inspiring from a design point of view, as much of this due to Pink Floyd's legendary anonymity and their creative response to this. The impetus to do whatever they could to detract attention from themselves during performances and on their album cover art, generated ideas that were groundbreaking and varied. In this process, they worked with the most incredible set and lighting designers, engineers, photographers and artists, such as architect Mark Fisher OBE and graphic designer George Hardie.

The experience of the exhibition, to match its subject matter, was immersive; an audio tour punctuated with Pink Floyd tracks guided us from exhibition to exhibition as we weaved through elaborately designed sets. A ‘fake ceiling’ – created from a network of lasers – resonated in time to a recording of Pink Floyd's 2005 reunion performance. The entire production was an extraordinary example of how to engage an audience.

Wish You Were Here, 1975 Album Artwork

Designed by Hipgnosis

Senior Production Designer, Rebecca Lett, reflected on the creativity of one of the world’s biggest music acts; “The series of stills of a businessman in flames, taken for the iconic cover art for Wish You Were Here, I found especially interesting and certainly emphasized how much has changed over the years. Today, that image could be achieved very quickly in Photoshop, rather than using a stuntman and physically setting his clothes and wig alight!

The exhibition really showed just how much Pink Floyd contributed to the format of gigs and stage shows as we know them today. Many lighting effects, and ideas such as live video, were created for the first time for their shows which set new benchmarks for the music industry and, indeed, the events industry. Their boundary-pushing originality is inspirational to this day.”

The exhibition details large-scale ideas that just hadn’t been seen before; an inflatable pig that was flown over Battersea Power Station, a larger-than-life photo shoot featuring hundreds of beds on a beach, and a giant wall built across a stage for epic video projection.

the 'Wall' show will be the touchstone against which all future rock spectacles must be measured

New York Times, 1980

 

It is remarkable that the playful and disruptive ideas of Pink Floyd, brought to life over four decades ago, are so influential and so relevant to the events industry today. That influence is apparent in the work we produce, in particular our brand experience work, and it is exciting to know how much more we can still learn from these ground breaking and ambitious ideas.