Foster + Partners collaborated with Amelia Peng, an MA Textiles student at the Royal College of Art, along with musicians and composers from the Royal College of Music to create an installation for the 2023 London Design Biennale. Inner Peace combines smart interactive textiles and musical performance to engage visitors in an immersive display, with their feelings and emotions directing the visual effects.

The installation takes the form of a spectacular waterfall, which was set against the backdrop of the Nelson Stair at Somerset House.

Foster + Partners’ Specialist Modelling Group developed the programming that converts data into light and sound effects. The team worked closely with the Italian textile weaver, Dreamlux, who created the innovative fiber optic fabric for the installation.

The fabric is made of two layers: translucent organza on the front and jacquard on the back. Both layers have integrated fiber optics, which have been hand-woven within the fabric. The front layer hosts approximately 23 kilometres of fiber optics, of which 19 are visibly illuminated, while the back layer hosts 53 kilometres of fiber optics, of which 30 are visibly illuminated. The fibers are connected to LEDs on both sides. The installation features 194 1W white, amber, red, green and blue LEDs, and the total cable length is around 300 metres.

Before the exhibition opening, people were asked to listen to the musical compositions while wearing an electroencephalogram (EEG) set, to record their brain activity and extrapolate data related to levels of focus or relaxation.

The outer layer of the fabric responded directly to the music, which was either a pre-recorded piece or a live performance by the composers and musicians at the Royal College of Music.

The LEDs connected to the organza inner layer changed colours based on the recorded brain data: a green-blue light stands for high values in relaxation, while an amber-red light represents a peak in focus.During the live performances, which were scheduled throughout the biennale, the musicians also wore the headset to demonstrate the effect of creating music on the brain.

Visitors were also invited to wear the headset that streamed their brain waves and visually expressed them on the back layer of the fabric installation, as they listened to music being played in the space.

“Science and Art are often regarded as distinct, either a person cannot be serious about both or an interest in one must relate somehow to work in the other. I have seen the enormous potential that exists when scientists and artists work together. This installation is an incredible Art and Science fusion and give us a glimpse into the many ways Science and Art interact.” – Irene Gallou, Head of Specialist Modelling Group (SMG), Foster+Partners

“[Inner Peace is] an ambitious collaborative project that brings together many sensory experiences and values from our creative industries. In doing so, this expands our understanding of each of the constituent disciplines.” – Anne Toomey, Head of Textiles Programme, Royal College of Art

“By allowing the audience to embrace personal emotions to shape the visual and auditory experience, the textile traverses the impressive installation and is programmed to tune in with the collective emotional state, projecting the public’s feelings through its colour fluctuations.” – Amelia Peng, Artist


Project Creation and Textile Design: Amelia Peng (Royal College of Art)
Sound Design: Andy Acred (Foster + Partners’ SMG)
Lighting Design Nicola Agresta (Foster + Partners’ SMG)
Computer-Brain Interface: Josef Musil (Foster + Partners’ SMG)
Original compositions: Obe Vermeulen, Isin Eray and Jacques Allen (Royal College of Music)
Manufacturing: DreamLux

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