Daria Maksimova: The Creative Mind Behind Branded Immersive Experiences

Daria Maksimova next to the Barbie Dreamhouse and fountain, World of Barbie.

Imagine stepping into a world filled with vibrant colors, whimsical characters, and engaging stories that transport you to another realm. For Daria Maksimova, a renowned lead designer for immersive and interactive experiences, this is her everyday reality. With a decade-long career working alongside giants of the entertainment and consumer industry, Daria has designed large-scale (10,000+ sq. foot) experiences visited by hundreds of thousands across North America and many of them set in Los Angeles.

This spring, Daria has hit yet another milestone with the opening of “World of Barbie,” an immersive and interactive touring experience in Santa Monica, California. As the lead designer, she has brought to life the iconic toy brand owned by Mattel just in time for the premiere of the Barbie film this summer.

“I have always dreamt of a show that I designed to open in Santa Monica, and it feels natural for World of Barbie to live in this space. A lot of the design for this show was inspired by this part of Los Angeles so it truly belongs here.” – confesses Daria.

Parallel to the launch of “World of Barbie,” the “Dr. Seuss Experience”— another show that Daria Maksimova was the lead designer of — opens in Washington DC’s prestigious Tyson’s Corner shopping mall. Having first launched in Toronto in 2019, the show quickly became a commercial success and made Time Out magazine’s “50 Coolest Places in the World” list. Since then, the immersive experience, produced by Kilburn Live in collaboration with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, has captivated audiences across the U.S.

Daria Maksimova inside the Balloon Maze, the central feature of “Dr. Seuss Experience”.

Maksimova’s portfolio also includes her work as the lead designer for “Nerf Challenge,” an interactive gameplay experience that is based on Hasbro’s top-selling brand Nerf. Opened first in L.A. Live at the end of 2019, it has now become a permanent attraction. Other remarkable achievements include the design of “Ice Kingdom: A Christmas Carol,” a 15,000 sq. ft. ice experience in Los Angeles’s Queen Mary.

“Nerf Challenge ” game-play arena, L.A. live.

Creating these immersive worlds comes with its fair share of challenges, but Daria’s dedication to her craft ensures she overcomes them. She understands the importance of visualizing the end goal and taking it one step at a time, focusing on daily tasks to make progress. The designer also emphasizes the importance of research, drawing inspiration from the subject matter while simultaneously bringing innovative perspectives into her designs.

For Daria, creativity is a muscle that benefits from constant practice, and she has honed her skills over the years to become increasingly adept at translating ideas into physical form. Her taste and unique perspective are cultivated by investing time, effort, and resources into continually expanding her inner library of experiences and information.

“Working in this field of design is challenging as you create environments that will be visited by so many different audiences.” – Daria reiterates. “Whether it is adults who want to immerse themselves into a different, fun environment or kids who love to explore and even invent new ways of play. The goal with these designs is to bring joy to anyone who visits.”

With her extensive background as a lead designer for immersive experiences with multi-million dollar budgets, Daria Maksimova continues to captivate audiences with her creative vision. As she works with top-selling brands like Mattel, Dr. Seuss, and Nerf, her innovative designs bring to life new worlds that enchant and inspire, solidifying her position as a true creative force in the industry.

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