Wednesday, November 29, 2023

iconpath: Devouring With the Eyes

iconpath debuts a new projected dining experience at the Asian Attractions Expo

Martin Palicki interviews iconpath founder Michael Reid

Martin Palicki: Tell us about PALATE and where it originated.

Michael Reid: We often hear somewhat abstract descriptions of flavor from sommeliers when trying a new wine or chefs experimenting with new ingredients but what does taste LOOK like, how does it FEEL? That was our inspiration – could the taste of a meal or bottle of wine be enhanced if your mind could taste in more ways?

We initially experimented with using projection on tables to tell a story at a Halloween themed dinner and the reaction was absolutely amazing so we looked at ways to take that to the next level – adding a bespoke environment that surrounded you, sound design that evoked different places, scents and live theatrical moments like choreographed wait staff and live performers.

Along the way we discovered we could not only tell a story but we were actually changing the way food or wine tasted – the experience combinations were truly endless like the combinations of flavor itself.

Are there size limitations?

Our original trials experimented with multiple configurations of tables and numbers of guests – small groups of people at individual tables all
the way up to long banquet style seating that ran near 20 meters (65 feet) in length.

Each had its own unique feel so PALATE has been designed to be scalable from 5-500 people to suit any environment.

How do you balance ambient lighting so it isn’t too dark, but so that people can still enjoy the theming?

The beauty of projection is it’s all light so we actually have more control over lighting levels than most restaurants would with standard lighting fixtures.

For certain courses, the intensity might be increased so people can see the individual ingredients or color of the wine, and for others, the room might go completely black so you only focus on scent and texture – it’s quite exhilarating to take people on a journey they weren’t expecting.

Is it a static show? Or does it change through the dinner? Is it responsive to gestures?

We really want people to focus on taste rather than technology so have consciously chosen not to make the projection responsive to guests.

That said, the content does appear to “interact” with the physical objects on the table like plates and glasses, often in unexpected, playful ways. For example, projected water might flow around items in its path or a butterfly might land on a centerpiece before flying away.

In terms of the journey, each installation is unique and will reflect the menu but generally every course of the meal or flight of wine would have its own “chapter” of the story that changes the look and feel of the room to enhance the taste of what’s being served at that time.

The content of the experience would also change over time as the menu evolves making it a great way to encourage repeat visitation.

Is this designed for special event uses only?

Although we trialed the concept at special events, PALATE is intended as a permanent installation.

We work with the venue owner to determine the optimal size of the experience and the story they want to tell before designing a bespoke environment. We then produce the show content, oversee
the installation of the AV technology and work closely with the venue staff as they play such a vital role in making it all come to life.

There is an upfront capital cost for the infrastructure but we offer a number of licensing models for the creative and content costs to suit different business models and ensure the experience remains fresh and dynamic.

Can someone experience PALATE today? Has it been successful?

The first permanent installations will come on line in the second half of 2017 but based on our trials, the ultimate measure of success for us is the audience reaction and subsequent social media response.

The look on people’s faces when they taste something in a whole new way is incredible – there’s a real sense of wonder in experiencing something for the first time, all over again.

Will you have food at your IAAPA Asian Attractions Expo booth?

You’ll have to come to stand B1426 and find out for yourself! • • •

For more information, visit


International Brands, local audiences

Joe Kleiman
Joe Kleiman
Raised in San Diego on theme parks, zoos, and IMAX films, InPark's Senior Correspondent Joe Kleiman would expand his childhood loves into two decades as a projectionist and theater director within the giant screen industry. In addition to his work in commercial and museum operations, Joe has volunteered his time to animal husbandry at leading facilities in California and Texas and has played a leading management role for a number of performing arts companies. Joe previously served as News Editor and has remained a contributing author to InPark Magazine since 2011. HIs writing has also appeared in Sound & Communications, LF Examiner, Jim Hill Media, The Planetarian, Behind the Thrills, and MiceChat His blog, takes an unconventional look at the attractions industry. Follow on twitter @ThemesRenewed Joe lives in Sacramento, California with his wife, dog, and a ghost.

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