Shanghai shoppers are transported into the vivid world of sports training courtesy of the immersive retail space created by the design and experiential experts at HUSH. Fueling Under Armour’s presence in the Chinese market, the sensory-challenging project transcends cultural and language barriers by translating the Under Armour brand into pure sight, sound, and form through a dazzling blend of architecture, VFX, 10.1 sound, and live action footage of Under Armour athletes – including Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps.
“This installation taps the most visceral human senses to connect the Chinese audience intimately with Under Armour,” explains HUSH Creative Partner David Schwarz. “The brand asked us to help potential Chinese customers see, hear, and feel what Under Armour is all about, to represent their brand’s ethos in a foreign country with its own distinct cultural relationship to athletics, training, and organized sport. In the end, I believe we captured the core of Under Armour’s brand in a way that will engage and inspire the Chinese audience.”
The retail experience combines a 270-degree panoramic film experience (shot with custom designed GoPro camera arrays), bespoke architectural and lighting design, projection mapped surfaces, various AV technologies, and 10.1 surround sound into an explosive, all-encompassing experience. Upon arrival, visitors see a bright red, highly angular, enigmatic retail façade designed to contain the bubbling energy within – a stark contrast to the open glass facades of the surrounding stores.
Visitors then enter a sensory decompression chamber, created with a tunnel of bright LED walls and directional sound. Midway down the tunnel, the lights cut out unexpectedly, revealing a glimpse of Michael Phelps beckoning them further inside. As they pass into the cavernous 270-degree theater, they experience a six minute film distilling Under Armour’s essence into a raucous blend of cross-category sports training, UA athletes, and VFX taking them from soccer pitch to basketball court, from Baltimore to England to and back to China. Finally, they emerge in a custom-designed retail space – a gallery-like, minimalist shrine to Under Armour connecting the visceral experience to a few of the brand’s core products.
HUSH took pains throughout the construction process to guarantee an experience that delivers both premium engagement and a detailed engineering foundation, working with architectural partner Marc Thorpe Design. HUSH began explorations with the creation of a scale model of the installation to evaluate the film experience within the architectural context. They tested projection blending and mapping of the visuals using MadMapper software and a proxy of the surround sound system built by music and sound design partners, Antfood.
In its film production pipeline, HUSH incorporated everything from custom, 3D-printed GoPro rigs, an array of iPad monitors to approximate the 270-degree experience on set, to Segways and homemade polecams. The final installation includes a massive range of custom PCs, SXGA+ resolution DLP projectors, Xilica Neutrino audio DSP, and JBL and KEF loudspeakers, as well as a menu of software that included a Medialon show control system, custom visualization software built in TouchDesigner, and a Mersive Sol IGS geometry and blend server, designed and integrated by technology partner, AV&C.
HUSH worked intensely with Under Armour Creative Team, Tight Shirt Productions, and the Under Armour China team to deliver upon the idea put forth by Under Armour Founder and CEO Kevin Plank to create this first chapter of what their new retail theater concept can look like. “This initiative was high priority for Under Armour, and it represents a bold expression of their brand in a very important market,” explains Schwarz. “This translated to a production quality of epic scale that carefully weighs materials, architecture, technology and visual and audio content. Everything had to be of a premium quality to reflect the quality of their products. HUSH leveraged its keen sense of design across structure, technology, and narrative to create something unique and memorable.”
Design Agency: HUSH
Architectural Design: Marc Thorpe Design
Technology Design & Direction: AV&C
Music & Sound Design: Antfood