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Designing for Mars

Moving to Mars exhibition - visitor experience by NorthernLight and Fabrique
Moving to Mars exhibition - visitor experience by NorthernLight and FabriqueMoving to Mars exhibition - visitor experience by NorthernLight and FabriqueMoving to Mars exhibition - visitor experience by NorthernLight and FabriqueMoving to Mars exhibition - visitor experience by NorthernLight and Fabrique

Immersive experience

What will it be like to live on Mars? To have a beer on the Red Planet? How will we survive the 200 million mile trip? Should we go there at all? All these questions are answered in the incredibly immersive exhibition Moving to Mars, which just opened in the Design Museum in London. It invites visitors to discover the role that design plays in humanity’s journey to the Red Planet. Over 150 exhibits tell the complete story of designing for Mars, including original objects and material from NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), SpaceX, Raymond Loewy and Foster & Partners. It is the first time that the London Design Museum enlisted the help of experience designers in the development of an exhibition. Dutch creative agencies NorthernLight and Fabrique designed the complete visitor experience.

Appealing to all senses

The highlight of the exhibition is a multi-sensory installation, called ‘On Mars Today’. It is a large panorama of different Martian landscapes, with superimposed infographics. Real photographs from NASA’s Curiosity Rover are augmented with sound and visual effects. The floor resembles the surface of Mars and the room even has a specially created Martian smell. NorthernLight and Fabrique worked with Mars expert Prof. Sanjeev Gupta from Imperial College London, to make sure that all information is scientifically accurate. Other notable experiences in the exhibition are the entrance, featuring a soundtrack composed by Blur and an interactive wall, inviting visitors to answer the question: ‘Should we go to Mars or not?’. The exhibition also explores the fashion side of the journey. On display are high-fashion clothing items that the Martian pioneers might be wearing and visitors can try on the Raeburn designed clothing using material designed by NASA for space exploration. The exhibition is also appealing to children. A ‘Mars Mission’ takes children aged 8+ through a series of design briefs set by design and space specialists, including ESA astronaut Tim Peake.

Inspired by science fiction

Visitors get the scientific perspectives of astrophysicists and geologists as well as the practical concerns of astronauts, designers and activists. By relating the exhibition objects to everyday life on earth, designing for Mars has been made understandable and engaging for everyone. NorthernLight and Fabrique were not only responsible for the overall visitor experience, but also for the visual design. This includes the exhibition’s graphic style, colour scheme and many infographics. The graphic design is inspired by science fiction but adds a speculative feeling. Each section of the show has its own atmosphere, colour and emotion, leading the visitor on an incredible journey.


  • exhibitiondesign
  • mars


NorthernLight Design

NorthernLight Design conceives, designs, builds and installs exhibitions for a wide variety of exhibitors. Clients include museums, children museums, science centres, expos, private companies and urban entertainment developers. We provide turn-key results, specialising in taking a project from first concept to production and installation. Action and interaction are central to our approach.