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teamLab Borderless: Behind the Scenes of a Reimagined World

"I wanted to explore a different kind of space ー one without borders, where you become part of the art itself." — teamLab Founder Toshiyuki Inoko



teamLab Borderless, the world-renowned immersive art experience, has undergone a much-anticipated metamorphosis. After captivating audiences on the Tokyo waterfront for several years, it has blossomed anew in the heart of the city, at Azabudai Hills in February 2024. This renewal marks a significant chapter for the museum in terms of location and even more so its artistic evolution.

Its immersive playground for the senses is a testament to the collective genius of teamLab, a group of artists constantly pushing the boundaries of perception.

From Seed to Borderless

The mastermind behind teamLab Borderless is Toshiyuki Inoko, who founded the collective in 2001. Driven by a fascination with human perception, Inoko sought to create art that challenged the way we experience the world. 

Toshiyuki Inoko | Founder of teamLab (©JAPAN Forward by Shaun Fernando)

Traditional museums, with their static displays and defined spaces, felt restrictive. Inoko envisioned an art form that blurred the lines between participant and observer, one that transported viewers to entirely new realities.

"We exist within the world, not separate from it," Inoko reflected. "But a camera lens creates a barrier, framing the world and excluding us from the picture. I wanted to explore a different kind of space — one without borders, where you become part of the art itself."

Years of experimentation followed, fueled by Inoko's relentless pursuit of innovation. This culminated in the opening of the original teamLab Borderless in Odaiba, on Tokyo Bay, in 2018.

The museum quickly became a global phenomenon, attracting over 2 million visitors in just six months. It even drew the attention of celebrities like Melania Trump, Justin Bieber, and Brad Pitt.

The new location offers a fresh canvas for artistic expression. Spread across 10,000 square meters, the museum boasts a more streamlined layout. This allows it to foster a sense of discovery and encourage visitors to lose themselves in the immersive world.


The Urge to Evolve

Despite the international acclaim, teamLab never rested on its laurels. Its members understood that the digital art landscape was constantly evolving and visitor expectations would continue to grow. In 2022, they embarked on a daring project: the renewal of teamLab Borderless.

GHANI | teamLab Catalyst (©JAPAN Forward by Shaun Fernando)

"The biggest changing thing is that we have a lot of members right now," says Ghani, a catalyst at teamLab. "There are many members and engineers, so we have a much more speedy development process and we can now create high-quality art pieces."

This expanded team allowed them to tackle more ambitious projects while maintaining the exceptional quality that has become synonymous with teamLab. But the renewal wasn't just about efficiency. It was about pushing the boundaries of what digital art could achieve.

Core Concepts

The cornerstone of the renewal project was the introduction of entirely new experiences. Visitors encountered groundbreaking installations like "Bubble Universe" and "Microcosmoses."

Bubble Universe © teamLab

"Bubble Universe" invites you into an infinite and immersive world of color. As you move through the space, the light reacts to your presence, transforming the environment around you. Imagine a field of shimmering bubbles, each one pulsating with a different hue, their colors shifting ever so slightly as you approach. This mesmerizing display offers a glimpse into a world without boundaries, where light and space become one.

Microcosmoses © teamLab

"Microcosmoses," in contrast, utilizes a network of rails and self-propelled vehicles to create a dynamic and ever-evolving light display. Drawing inspiration from the intricate ecosystems found in nature, the installation features miniature vehicles that zip and zag through the space, leaving trails of light in their wake. The result is a mesmerizing tapestry of movement and illumination, a testament to the beauty and complexity of the natural world.

These are just two examples of the many new experiences introduced during the renewal. A closer look at teamLab's website reveals the addition of captivating works like "Flowers and People," a continuous computer projection of blooming and scattering petals, and "EN TEA HOUSE," an immersive tea experience where digital flowers bloom in your cup as you sip.

Flowers Bloom in an Infinite Universe inside a Teacup (EN TEA HOUSE) © teamLab

Beyond the Walls

teamLab's vision extends far beyond the walls of the museum. Their ultimate goal is to create experiences that transcend cultural backgrounds and geographical borders, fostering a sense of shared humanity. Art without boundaries unlocks immense creative potential, but it also demands innovative solutions to unprecedented challenges.

"Each art piece was made at different times, and each has its own concept," Inoko explained. "The hardest part is making sure that everything has its meaning, and that everything is still beautiful in every circumstance when overlapping in multiple places."

A Beacon of Innovation in Azabudai

The relocation to Azabudai Hills signifies teamLab Borderless' commitment to being an integral part of Tokyo's vibrant art scene. Azabudai Hills, an anchor for the developing Azabudai district, is also close to major transportation hubs.

The 330-meter Azabudai Hills Mori JP Tower (back left) and the low-rise Garden Plaza (foreground). December 8, 2023, Minato Ward, Tokyo (©Sankei by Miho Suzuki)

Furthermore, the museum's appeal transcends age and cultural boundaries. The interactive nature of the exhibits sparks the imagination of children and adults alike, fostering a love for art. Stepping into the world of teamLab Borderless is like passing through a portal to a realm where worries fade away and the senses are invigorated. 

The renewal of teamLab Borderless is a testament to the collective's dedication to pushing the boundaries of artistic expression. Its Azabudai iteration marks a significant step forward, not just for teamLab Borderless, but for the future of art itself in the digital age. By seamlessly blending art, technology, and interactivity, the team creates experiences that redefine what a museum can be.

Whether you're a seasoned art enthusiast or simply seeking a unique and immersive experience, teamLab Borderless in Azabudai is a must-see for any visitor to Tokyo.



Author: Shaun Fernando