Oscar Koning is a starting designer within Themed Entertainment. From his background as an illustrator and set designer he decided to start his own company. ‘Oscar Koning Illustration & Design’ translates inspired storytelling and a trained drawer’s hand to beautiful experiences for visitors of the leisure branch. This year, he sponsors the Diamond ThemePark Awards for the second time. High time to get acquainted!
What made you want to be a designer in Themed Entertainment?
I was interested from a very early age. I remember making a kind of Dark Ride for my parents in the attic. It took me the whole afternoon to connect and arrange a bunch of lamps and cassette players with extension cords and time them in such a way that it more or less became a show. It wasn’t exactly quality entertainment, but it fascinated me. That fascination never left me. Making something out of nothing, either through an illustration or a stage set, is a very pleasant addiction.
You are a huge fan of theme parks yourself. Do you have a favourite?
For me that is the Efteling. That is my ‘home park’. My earliest childhood memories lie there. And the style of the Efteling has certainly influenced me, in the sense that you could say I’m a bit of an Anton Pieck-adept. The park is quite dear to my heart. I regularly visit theme parks all over the world, I was recently in Hong Kong Disneyland and Universal Studios in Singapore. Beautiful parks, each one of them, and absolutely inspiring. But the Efteling is unique. You don’t find it anywhere else.
What is your view on the role of the designer in the creation of theme park attraction?
A designer makes the story three-dimensional. Letters become lines. Things like technique, light and sound are essential elements of a ride. A designer draws the lines along which all those disciplines contribute to the ultimate experience.
You are a storyteller. Is a story essential to an attraction?
No, not every attraction or ride needs a story. A droptower or coaster doesn’t need a storyline to be appealing. But if you want to create a ride with a more layered experience, you will have to attach a solid theme to it. Sometimes that is a detailed story and sometimes only a few outlines. Storytelling must contribute in the right way to the experience of the visitor.
How would you describe that visitor?
I think the present-time visitor, especially the fan, is first and foremost well informed. So much information can be found on websites, internet fora and through podcasts. You can experience any attraction in the world, front seat, on YouTube. Those kinds of media not only give visitors a lot of information, I imagine they are also a useful source of feedback for the parks.
How do you view the current theme park landscape?
These are wonderful times for theme park fans. Worldwide, but certainly in Belgium and the Netherlands, too. We have a wealth of experience in our surroundings, as well as designers that make beautiful things. On top of that we have renowned parks and suppliers and enough money and confidence to start daring projects. I think we can be very proud of that in the Low Countries.
To what extent do you see that landscape change in the future?
I think interaction will play a larger role in attractions of the future. I’m also very interested in the possibilities of trackless ride systems. VR doesn’t seem to have reached its full potential either. In the coming years, we will be even more submerged in our experience and we will possibly have more influence on the route we take through a ride.
And where will we meet you in times to come?
I’m very happy with the chances I have been given. Furthermore I have an endless amount of ideas. So you will hear from me, no doubt about that!