Interview to Eric Teunis, Project Manager for the immersive audiovisual installation at the Wu Kingdom Helv Relic Museum

July 22, 2015 | Exhibitions, Museums

We spoke in this interview with Eric Teunis, director of international business development for APD and Project Manager in charge of the project, who talked about the key elements in this multimedia show that makes up the culminating moment in the exhibition itinerary of the museum.Formed by an interactive floor measuring 400 m² and a large projection screen at 250 m², the show takes the visitor on a historical journey through the legendary kingdom of  Wu and allows him to interact with the spectacular landscapes. Although not so far away in time, we can confirm that the permanent show created in 2013 by APD for the Wu Kingdom Helv Relic Museum (China) is already an emblematic project for the company. And it is the largest immersive interactive installation in the world to this date, with a size of 650 metres square, that has been recognized worldwide with four prestigious awards for design : the Red Dot Award 2014 (Winner), the New York Festivals 2015 (Silver World Medal), the iF Award 2015 (Gold) and more recently, the Art Directors Club (ADC) Award.

Four important awards from the design sector support the project’s success. What does it mean for APD to be recognized by such prestigious institutions such as the International Forum Design or the Red Dot?

It is recognition for work well done. The reward for creative effort and hard work and carried out in a country where triumph is complicated to achieve. At the same time is encourages a continued search for opportunities to be able to carry out design and technological projects that are not easy to find in the market.

From a museological point of view this interactive installation has broken molds. What do you believe the jury values most in a competition of this kind? 

The answer may lie in the use of state-of –the-art technology for educational purposes, creating a real attraction for this museum, which is found quite far from the big well-known cities.

What was the biggest challenge that you and your team had to confront in this work?

As an innovative project, the most complicated was perhaps that creative workers and technicians were capable of achieving excellence without losing too much money in the attempt. Moreover, we were able to maintain a good understanding with a complicated client such as was the case here, with a very different business culture from ours; nevertheless, they trusted us from the very beginning to make something never before achieved in this museum context.

What is the added value for APD in this project?

APD has shown, as usual, that it is capable of working in any part of the world, no matter where, as much in creating historical content for a different culture from its own as maintaining technical and organizational quality in whatever circumstance.

What – in your opinion – is the most striking for the visitors when they see the showing?

The sheer dimension of the totality and the possibility to interact with the scenes at the same time that they are learning about the theme of the museum: the relics of the Wu Kingdom of the lost city of Helv.

It isn’t the first time that APD has worked in China. It already did the Pavilion for Saudi Arabia in the Expo Shanghai 2010, which received five international awards. What is it like to work in a country that is culturally so different like China?

That’s a good question and difficult to answer. As much the client as the theme of the Pavilion were very different from the Wuxi proposal. Chinese support for the work in the Universal Exposition was important and quite positive. On this second occasion, however, it was much thornier. From difficulties at the moment of closing the contracts, the content approval, the support from the client’s team or the preparation of technical personnel, up to complications in payments. In a country accustomed to exportation, the biggest challenge was become adjusted to a different business culture, in dealing with importing such an innovative and distinctive product to anything that had ever been experienced before. Difficult but not impossible, as we’ve shown. 

How is our company perceived in the exterior?

As a serious, complete, profession and quite agreeable in the treatment and comprehension of other cultures, especially with the Arabs, with our competence with other nations.

Your work allows you to know very different countries and cultures. Where do you feel the most comfortable? Which do you like best?

At the moment I’m residing principally in Muscat, Oman. It’s without a doubt the best place in the Middle East to spend a few years. But if I have to choose I’d say Seville, it’s really marvelous.

BRIEF BIO

Born in Holland in 1955, Eric has lived in Spain for 30 years. Trained in lighting design, he has always been linked to the sectors of culture and leisure. In his professional first years he worked as a lighting designer and technical director for theatre and ballet companies. He also worked as consultant and producer for various cultural and audiovisual projects. In 1994 he began working for APD as lighting designer, but soon lead his career towards production, Project management and commercial relations, in the constant search for new markets and business opportunities for the company. 

Follow the link to watch the video of the show on our Youtube channel.