Launch - Food for Thought - November 2017


PALATE projections can bring dramatic atmospheres to dinner tables. (Credit: Iconpath Curated Experiences)

A Feast for the Senses

Iconpath brings immersive experiences to the dinner table

by Keith Miller

Themed and interactive storytelling has become a part of virtually every kind of attraction experience, be it on rides, in 4-D cinemas, at live shows, and even in queues. Dining has also become an essential part of the package, whether guests indulge while enjoying medieval knights jousting on horseback, or watching Polynesian hula dancers at an outdoor luau. But now, a creator of multisensory curated events is taking it a step further by making food itself the focus of the journey.

Iconpath Curated Experiences in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, created an experience where guests actually explore how their food and drinks look and feel. Called PALATE, it adds a customized environment to the dining experience that surrounds guests with sights, sounds, scents, and theatrical moments that bring senses beyond taste into play. 

There are projections that actually appear to interact with physical objects on the table like plates and glasses, sometimes in unexpected and playful ways, such as water flowing around table items or a butterfly landing on a centerpiece and then flying away. The projection intensity might increase so guests can see individual ingredients or a wine’s color, but it’s done in a manner that focuses guests on the taste of the food, not the technology.

Michael Reid, Iconpath’s founder and director, talks about how his company’s experience with large-scale international ceremonies led to creating a way for guests to connect more deeply with cuisine: “With the explosion of new venues in Asia and owners’ openness to different attraction formats, we began experimenting with concepts for smaller audiences where we could fully design the end-to-end guest journey within a custom environment. This would allow us to also incorporate more multi-sensory elements, such as smell and touch, and signature features that would be unique to each project.” 

Reid says the first stage in development of a PALATE experience is talking with the chef, sommelier, or venue owner to understand their passions and inspiration, which would provide the basis for the core concept. Iconpath extensively researches the ingredients and recipe histories to create different techniques to visualize the tastes in unique ways.

Each project tells a different story, visualizing flavors with exquisite projected and sound content that flows around the tables and throughout the room, but always keeping the food and drink as the star of the show. “Our technical team investigates how to best integrate the required technology so it’s virtually invisible and doesn’t detract from the experience,” says Reid. “We want people to focus on taste and not be dazzled by gimmicks.” 

He notes PALATE is flexible, so it can be presented in multi-course theatrical formats with set start times, or in casual on-demand restaurants with people arriving at different times and ordering different dishes. It’s designed to be constantly updated to drive repeat visitation, where new scenes can be introduced for changes in menus and seasons and also to accommodate ticketed special events.