It’s been a long time since any of us experienced Harry Potter for the first time. And somehow, along the way of so may books, movies, J.K. Rowling’s tweets, and a Universal theme park, I’ve been so inundated with the Harry Potter aesthetic that the world ceased to feel magical. Is Diagon Alley still a place of intrigue and mystery when you can visit it every other weekend on TBS?
But Smoke and Mirrors–an exhibition by architecture students from the Melbourne School of Design–gives me those Harry Potter warm-and-fuzzy-yet-stomach-churning vibes all over again. The students were handed design briefs of eight locations from Harry Potter, including Ollivander’s wand shop, Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom, the towering Weasley house, or the Shrieking Shack of Hogsmeade. These briefs were meant to mirror professional creative briefs–with details on each client, quotes from the books, and a bit of reference imagery.
Over the course of 12 days, 35 students broke into teams to create models of each space out of a bare minimum of materials: 1.0mm and 0.6mm boxboard, tracepaper, LED lights, and Arduino-connected motors. Students spent 400 hours using a laser cutter to fabricate what you see here. In the case of Ollivander’s, the team hand-cut 700 miniature boxes to serve as the inventory of wands.
The resulting level of detail is astounding. Just look at the Weasley house! It’s every suburban dream stacked up like a magical layer cake! But a lot of credit should go to the art direction, too. The Shrieking Shack has never looked as terrifying as it does as this hovering bundle of sticks that, despite being a tiny pile paper, is sure to haunt my dreams tonight–which leaves me with nothing to say but Expecto Patronum!