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The Lab


In 2022, the kingdom of Bhutan reopened its doors to friends old and new. In collaboration with MMBP & Associates, we infused Bhutan’s rich culture, proud heritage, and bold ambitions into their new online home.

Bhutan is a small country situated in the Eastern Himalayas. With a colourful Buddhist culture, and a verdant, mountainous landscape teeming with rich biodiversity, Bhutan is the perfect destination for explorers.

Today, the kingdom has a unique tourism model that seeks to share Bhutanese culture with the world, whilst carefully restricting the number of visitors to safeguard their distinct ecosystem of flora and fauna.

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The brief

Bhutan came to ON with a vision to create a digital counterpart to the country that reflects their rich culture and attracts environmentally conscious travellers.

After years spent with its doors closed to tourists due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Bhutan finally re-opened in September 2022. This marked the perfect occasion for a big virtual push to showcase its rich culture, and dedication to protecting the environment.

As the only carbon negative country in the world, Bhutan is especially proud of their environmental record. They therefore wanted a website that showcased the country’s breathtaking geography, whilst attracting environmentally conscious travellers.

They also wanted the new digital home to be educational, featuring engaging content that immersed visitors in the history of the country. Finally, the website needed to be useful for tourists committed to travelling to Bhutan, by providing logistical information that could make the dream of visiting the country tangible.

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An interactive landscape

Bhutan’s epic landscape deserved pride of place in their new digital home. We created an interactive map that immerses users in the country’s multifaceted offering.

Bhutan’s vision was to create a digital platform that painted a unified picture of the country by bringing together its diverse cultural and environmental offerings. We took the dramatic landscape as a starting point, creating an interactive map that allows visitors to explore different areas of interest in one seamless experience.

Visitors are presented with a digital model of Bhutan that can be traversed in three dimensions either by dragging the cursor, or zooming in and out. The visitor can then select different toggles for experiences, culture, and biodiversity and explore specific attractions as they are plotted on the map. When they hover over a plot, they are given a brief snapshot of the attraction which takes them to a longer form article for more information when clicked.

However, this is more than just a plotted map. Rather than relying on aerial photography, we utilised topographical data from NASA to generate a highly accurate landscape that is faithful to every contour of Bhutan’s wild landscape. As a result, Bhutan now has a tool that allows them to add more points of interest with ease, by placing new plots wherever they choose with the exact coordinates. Given its accuracy, the map also aids visitors in planning the logistics of their trip, as they can work out which areas of the country they should visit.

We paid particular attention to interactive details that would make the tool more immersive. As you move around the map, a ball of light follows your cursor, casting shadows as it soars over mountains and ravines, as if you were flying over the country from point to point. When you click into a plot to learn more information, the viewpoint zooms into the landscape as if you were touching down to explore the location on foot.

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Editorial storytelling

Bhutan wanted their new website to share their culture with the world. We created a digital journal that immerses visitors in Bhutanese storytelling.

Bhutan came to us with a collection of wonderfully written editorial pieces to educate potential visitors on their culture and history. We created a digital journal within the website that houses all of this content in a way that is immersive for the audience, and scalable for Bhutanese content creators.

Within the journal, the latest news, and longform articles are presented in the primary column, with shorter interest pieces appearing alongside in a tile format that reflects the length of content housed within. The formatting for each individual piece is considered so that the story takes precedence; text is presented in vast areas of white space, and images of Bhutan are layered throughout to add moments of breathtaking colour.

The journal is dynamic, supporting effortless content upload and arrangement by Bhutan as they add more and more threads to the country’s cultural and historic fabric.

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Creating a unified picture of the country

We weaved Bhutanese art and brand elements from our partners MMBP & Associates into every consideration of the website to create a bold picture of the country.

Bhutan came to us with a vast array of visual elements from MMBP & Associates inspired by the country’s artistic heritage. We brought these to life throughout the website, highlighting them with micro-interactions. Within the journal, stylistic flowers twirl and spin and as you scroll down. Transitions between blocks of text show collages of Bhutanese patterns with an overlap that adds depth, creating the sense of a draped tapestry that you could reach out and touch.

For photography, we created dynamic experiences where images fade in and out, evoking the mist of the mountains as moments of bold imagery come in to focus as the traveller journeys through Bhutan’s digital realm.

We used parallax to create smooth interactions that blend macro photography of Bhutan with close-up images of folkloric patterns to create a holistic sense of the country's visual identity.

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Attracting conscious travellers

We brought together themes of folkloric tradition and ecosystem guardianship throughout the website to attract conscious travellers.

The website was carefully crafted to draw in conscious travellers who respect the country’s reverence for nature and cultural preservation. Our approach here was to bring opposites together. For example, within the About page, the story of Bhutan is told under bold typographic titles that combine contrasting themes such as ‘Heritage + Progress’, and ‘Creativity + Tradition’. Within our interactive map, visitors can toggle between experiences, culture, and biodiversity, but crucially, these aspects are first shown in combination as ‘Everything’.

By telling the story of Bhutan through these opposites, the website is a reflection of the country’s rewriting of tourism practices to be more self-aware. As a whole, Bhutan’s new digital home is testament to the fact that technology and traditionalist values can work together to change the nature of tourism to be more respectful of culture, and less impactful on the environment.

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The result

Bhutan’s new website infuses the country’s rich culture and proud heritage to create an inspiring and immersive digital experience, attracting environmentally-conscious visitors from across the world.

“The result is a story of cultural preservation meets technological innovation, sustainability meets transformation, and mindfulness meets adventure — and a compelling  case study in the expanded field of 21st century luxury marketing.”

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Atelier 100

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From the very beginning, the joint venture was driven by a commitment to foster community and creativity. Atelier100 promotes a network of makers, producing products that are equal parts sustainable and innovative. All products in Atelier100’s concept store have been designed and manufactured within 100km of central London by independent creators making waves in their respective crafts.

The goal of the new website is to champion the creatives involved in Atelier100, as well as creating a flexible platform that can accommodate different stages of the programme cycles, with ON managing the development of the site through its various stages.

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