Project Overview

ARC Project Investigators: Dennis Del Favero, Maurice Pagnucco, Caroline Wake, Susanne Thurow, Michael Scott-Mitchell, Lawrence Wallen, Kip Williams and Ben Schostakowski
ARC Project Title: Reformulating set design aesthetics via a dialogical model of interactivity
Project Funding: ARC LP170100471

The iDesign project transforms contemporary performance design through the application of novel forms of dialogical aesthetics. Leveraging the AVIE visualisation platform, it enables set design to be composed interactively by users, who can immersively model and evaluate sets in real-time at 1:1 scale using their full gestural range assisted by an AI-supported database. For instance, the research addresses the improvisational nature of design by allowing users to directly test their ideas in the modelling space through a range of tools, such as: audioscape filters, colour/texture palettes, dramaturgical contextualisation, gaze calculation, gesture interpretation, lighting templates, a motion capture library, movement pathway- as well as projection parameters and screen locations.

iDesign thus addresses the deficiency in viability, contextualisation and iteration of traditional modelling paradigms that have been constrained by linear ideation, sequential mock-up procedures and after-the-fact evaluation. Specifically, the project digitally transforms the traditional scale model paradigm (i.e. Bauprobe) by streamlining production pipelines and reconfiguring the design process in ways that increase the economic efficiencies of set modelling. Its dialogical framework transforms set design from a linear aggregation of screens and manually captured data composed by segregated users into an embodied and evolving compositional process that is interactively produced and fine-tuned by users and AI systems.

iBauprobe Demo Picture
Michael-Scott Mitchell “Storm Boy” set design inside iBauprobe, Sydney Theatre Company

While focused on performance design, the research also provides a direct benefit to set design for the art, events, film, installation, interior, music/opera sectors, as each involve similar design processes that can be enhanced through a collaborative and immersive full-body 3D modelling framework.

The iDesign project is financially supported under the Australian Research Council’s Linkage funding scheme with Industry Partners Sydney Theatre Company and National Institute of Dramatic Art.
A proof-of-concept was previously supported through the University of New South Wales, entitled iBauprobe.


  • Sydney Theatre Wharf Complex, Sydney, 2020/21


  • Del Favero, Dennis, Thurow, Susanne & Wake, Caroline (2020), ‘Dialogical Aesthetics – Reconfiguring Theatrical Spaces through Digital Technology ’, K. Dreckmann, M. Butte & E. Vomberg (eds.), Technologien des Performativen (357-65). Bielefeld: transcript, LP170100471 (2018-2021)
  • Del Favero, Dennis, Thurow, Susanne, Scott-Mitchell, Michael & Wallen, Lawrence (2019), ‘iDesign – New Capabilities for Set Design’, Conference Presentation; peer-reviewed abstract only; presented at PQ Talks @ Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design & Space, In- dustrial Palace & Exhibition Grounds, Prague, Czech Republic, LP170100471 (2018-2021)
  • Thurow, Susanne (2017), ‘Response to the Metamaterial Turn: Performative Digital Methodologies for Creative Prac- tice and Analytical Documentation in the Arts’, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art 17.2: 238-50, doi:10.1080/14434318.2017.1450071, LP170100471 (2018-2021)

iDesign Set Design Example

iDesign Storm Boy