Onionlab is an audiovisual studio based in Barcelona, working worldwide. We have extensive experience in creating audiovisual and interactive content for important exhibitions, events and pavilions. Our job is to search for and develop new concepts, techniques and approaches to expand our skills and knowledge of the audiovisual industry.
We are like an onion that consists of multiple layers, from complex inner layer to more simple outer layers; we play with and explore these layers. We decided to use the word ‘onion’ to represent something organic and then added ‘lab’ as a reference to experiments that we conduct. We are convinced that researching and examining new possible projects thoroughly is the key to technical innovation and the development of the aesthetics we want to apply. The challenge has always been to create something spectacular that would capture people’s attention.
Our portfolio consists of varied works of art from reviving facades of buildings to lighting up bridges and creating unforgettable experiences, interactive art installations, events, stage design and led stage design.
Everything started mostly by coincidence, as all great things do. At first we used to create audiovisuals for concerts and clubs. During that time we were getting more interested in the technology world. Our objective was to use technology to express, communicate and generate content for creative industries. To be able to do that, one has to be up to date with technology as well as adding an innovative personal touch. Since the beginning of Onionlab, we have been experimenting with software and new digital techniques and we eventually made our own software to create animated graphics and 3D content.
Suddenly, digital art was becoming very popular and light festivals started to spring up. This gave us an opportunity to showcase our work and establish ourselves in the audio-visual world. It has been said that we are pioneers of 3D projection mapping. Using this technique, we have been able to revive and transform the world’s most eminent facades into unimaginable and magical journeys full of different narrations.
We created well known mappings such as A-cero (2012), Evolució (2013), Axioma (2015) and Diplopia (2015). Our mappings became something as a blueprint for our work; some of them have been adapted numerous times, in many different countries and places creating a little history for themselves. They have been projected on churches, city halls, museums and houses showing different concepts such as geometry, binocular vision, time travelling and anniversaries.
3D projection mapping has its pros and cons. One of the most important pros is its magic that takes you to an incredulous state where you can’t believe your own eyes. The negative part of video mapping lies in the narration limitations; it does not allow you to change the scenery or zoom out.
Every new step is a challenge but it also brightens and widens the horizons of knowledge and new possibilities. Knowing this we started to explore other areas of the audiovisual world. We were commissioned to create content for World Expos and top-level events such as the Venice Biennale and the Mobile World Congress. Combining space and content allowed us to create installations in the most peculiar places, from garages to high-class hotels and chapels and enabled us to collaborate with interesting and creative people. We are aware of the new elements introduced into the world of audio-visuals such as spotlights, lasers and LEDs. Therefore we started to include them in our stage design along with music, paying close attention to the distribution of the space. Our most renowned installations are Sala 5 (The Spanish Pavilion, Expo Milano 2015), Towards Biology (Venice Architecture Biennale 2014), Expo Yeosu (Spanish Pavilion, Expo Yeosu 2012).
Music has always been a very essential part of our work. It is a source of inspiration for us. We have worked with different musicians, orchestras, composers and DJs to create installations dedicated to image and music. This unique combination helped us to create installations that astonished and bewildered the spectators. One of our famous works that has been adapted several times is Transfiguració (2017). Its mesmerizing interaction of lights and orchestral music completely transformed the places where it was performed. Other famous image and music installations are: Phasing Rain (2019), Lumin AV (2019), Future Rising (2019) and Mare Natura (2018).
Since we can remember, we have always been passionate about technology and that is why we decided to offer tech support services as part of our vast portfolio. By working with the cinema industry and advertising production companies we can get closer to new technology trends and expand our stage design knowledge.
We also emerged ourselves in VR content creation. The idea of creating imaginary worlds and transporting people there always seemed very appealing. Sunmachine (2016), an immersive virtual reality video, was our first VR project. Paradoxa (2019), VR version of our mapping about time travelling, is the latest one.
Another great example of our digital interactive installations is the one we created for Lush in Tokyo 2019. In this spa floor, we distributed the LED bars on the ceiling and walls offering visitors a personalized and unique immersive experience. The idea was to create a colourful journey that enhances our feelings.
Onionlab team is a small one, our aim is to inspire and help one another with hard work, creativity and humour. Among us are the most creative minds and stereotypical nerds that spend most of their time in front of the computer screens dreaming and fantasizing about particles and 3D. Fortunately we also have a sense of humour! Performing pranks and making fun of each other is one of our favourite pastimes. For example, we installed fake cameras facing one of our colleagues to make him think he was being watched constantly, bought a remote control fake mouse to scare the office staff, projected our co-worker’s butt on the facade of a building, etc. Despite all this mischief we do love each other.
But we certainly haven’t finished there… our creative minds can’t be stopped. There will be more video mappings, installations and pranks to come.