Interactive Design Blossoms in Downtown D.C.

Interactive design blossoms in downtown DC

'Color Play' in the lobby

ESI design is a company that sees the world as “one big ecosystem.” It aims to strengthen the connection between people and their surroundings by designing inviting, interactive spaces. One of the company’s most recent projects, an installation at Terrell Place in downtown Washington DC, takes interactive design to a whole new level.

The installation at Terrell Place is made up of 1,700 square feet of digital media. It is eighty feet wide and thirteen feet tall, which means it completely transforms the generic-office-building lobby of Terrell Place into a visual phenomenon. The most unique aspect of this instillation, however, is not its size. The most incredible part of the display is the fact that it is motion activated. It is not a static piece of art, it is a constantly changing reflection of the activity of the occupants of Terrell Place.

The digital media panels that make up the installation have three different display settings: ‘seasons,’ ‘color play,’ and ‘cityscape.’ Each setting reacts differently to passerby, and can be set for varying durations. This ensures that people’s experience of the installation changes constantly, consequently increasing their awareness of their surroundings.

The ‘seasons’ display reflects the life cycle of DC’s famous cherry trees, from new buds all the way through winter. People passing by can trigger waving in the trees’ branches or cascades of falling petals. Butterflies will even cluster around anyone who stops in front of the display.


‘Color play’ mode has a more mathematical feel. It shows colorful threads of light that respond to people’s motions with coordinated patters. The colorful strands look like a vortex of stars, or schools of tiny fish zooming back and forth, sometimes appearing to go into a frenzy as people pass closely.

The final mode is ‘cityscape,’ which reflects the city itself. In this display scenes of day to day city life animate as people move about the lobby. The effect is a continuous flow between the outside environment and the interior of Terrell Place. The interactive nature of these displays makes moving through the installation space more interesting, and fosters a greater awareness of the connection between people and their environment.



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