Recently I began to notice that I am particularly drawn to intimate relationships, and the emotional charge they hold. I believe we get close to each other by sharing our observations and the stories we create from our life experience. When we share, we give others an invitation to share with us. We open the door for intimacy, and in a broader sense, for unity.

I took ‘Cabinets of Wonder’ since my gut told me it would be interesting to experiment with a sort of a museum inside a jacket or a coat. Personally I love discovering things in my pockets, and really enjoy exploring touch with my hands. I love little things, and drawing my attention to their details.

I didn’t have a plan or a clear direction for this ‘jacket museum’ experience and what it might will hold in advance.

As the weeks went by, and after learning from observation on what I liked more and what I liked less in exhibition/museum environments, I was able to define the core experience that I wanted to create. It was important to me to have visitors participate in the making and affect the creation of the collection. Also, I wanted to create a personal kind of journey within the space. I preferred smaller exhibitions, and spaces which suited my mental and physical capacity.

In this project I felt the wearing of a jacket could facilitate an intimate experience, and I wanted to reflect on relationships – the perception of someone from the perspective of another.

I created an experience of three jackets as a prototype for the experience. Each jacket reflected someone I have a relationship with, and I placed small objects in each of the jackets’ pockets (there were 4-5 objects per jacket). Each object was a trigger for a story and so I recorded myself telling a memory which was tied to the object.

I used NFC technology to trigger the audio. The experience felt magical as the objects, embedded with NFC hidden stickers made the audio start.

The conceptual experience of The Cloakroom:

About

The Cloakroom is the world’s first museum to tell stories through worn garments. It is a place for discovering and sharing stories of relationships.

Through the experience of trying on different jackets and revealing hidden objects, visitors unlock intimate fragments of relations.

Each jacket in the Cloakroom’s collection is designed by one of the collection’s visitors, and the collection of jackets is ever growing.

The exhibited collection is changed seasonally, 50 jackets are on display.

Location and Space: 

The Cloakroom is placed in NYC by a body of water.

It is built as a round open space structure with large glass windows.

The main hall is set on the ground floor. It has a circular shape, high ceiling, and is facing and extending over the water.

At the center of the space, there is a round structure holding all the hanging jackets from high up near the ceiling. Within this structure, three private and quiet RRD (recall, record and design) booths are set.

Comfortable single sofas and coffee tables are spread around the main hall, facing the water view.

Mission:

To encourage people to practice sharing feelings, memories and ideas about their relationships with others.

To create a space for selfreflection.

Guiding principles:

Relationships are at the core of the human existence.

Honest storytelling builds trust and common grounds for people to collaborate, understand each other, and create a more compassionate world.

Experience :

Discover a story of a relationship through wearing it –

The experience begins when the visitors deposit their own belongings at the admission counter.

Then they get to choose a key, and receive an audio device. The key allows lowering and releasing a specific numbered jacket.

The Cloakroom’s staff will encourage the visitors to explore the jacket’s pockets and look for the hidden objects before unlocking the recorded stories. They will also suggest taking some time for speculating and forming their own thoughts of what stories the jacket might hold.

Once the jacket is worn, the key can be scanned by placing it near the audio device. An introduction recording by the person who designed the jacket will start to play.

The visitor is invited to wonder around the space or find a comfortable seat by a coffee table, and to get comfortable within the jacket. When found and placed by the audio device, the objects will play their specifically linked story.

The creation of the collection:

Visitor generated content; an opportunity to think creatively about your own relationships.

Each day a different set of three keys are configured to also open the RRD booths. The visitors who receive these keys by chance are invited if interested to participate in the creation of the collection.

While keeping their anonymity, the lucky visitors can reflect and expose their most private thoughts.

Within each booth the lights are dimmed, there is a comfortable seat and an invitation to think of a significant relationship the visitor had or currently has.  An interactive device guides the visitor through designing the jacket with suggested templates and directing questions (choosing style; size; color; fabric etc.).

The next step is recording the visitor’s stories, with a set of simple questions:

The visitor is asked to name the person this jacket represent, to explain the nature of their relationship with that person, to state how long they have been in the relationship and when was the last time they have seen each other. Then, the visitor is asked to choose up to five objects that reflect parts of their relationship and could be carried inside the jacket’s pockets or attached in some other way. Finally, the visitor tells a short story regarding the objects they chose.

Once the recording is done, the visitor can then review and further modify the details to complete their story.

The visitor can also choose to keep their recordings by sending themselves an email.

The content of the stories will not be modified, the stories will be told as initially described by the visitor.

The Cloakroom’s staff will create or purchase a custom jacket according to the design description. The recorded stories will be linked to the objects, and the objects will be hidden within the jacket.

Visiting:

The experience is suggested for an adult audience.

Visiting time: approx. 1 hr

The Future:

I hope to see The Cloakroom model expanding to large cities around the world.

I wish to see The Cloakroom becoming an integrated part of StoryCorps organization, to bring another physical dimension to the collection of stories they document, and a means of exploring those stories.


The prototyping process:

I spent some time wondering around thrift shops to find the right jackets, for each relationship.

My initial strategy for making the object tell stories, was to use Augment Reality – with object recognition via Vuforia and Unity. I began with the Vuforia’s object scanner, and quickly learned that very round objects do no scan well, and so started looking for objects that have clear edges. The scanning went smoothly and I followed a few tutorials and managed to trigger sound when my laptop’s camera recognized the different objects. The problem was that after the start of one object, Unity wouldn’t switch to another object. I tested a bunch of different objects, each triggered the right sound, but after it started Unity would not continue to switch.

My main goal with this project was to have a seamless, and as least noticeable “technology” on the way to trigger the sound. So actually using AR with the phone’s camera was not ideal, as I would have to ask the users to hold a phone and aim it’s camera at the object. After consulting with Ziv Schneider and Shir David, the idea of using NFC came about.

I used two apps on Samsung Galaxy 6s: Trigger and Tasker which were very easy to program and allow for a very wide range of functionality. Each NFC sticker is scanned by using Trigger on the phone, after the task is created in Tasker. I paired the objects with the stickers, which were programmed to start to corresponding audio recording.