October 22, 2010

Earlier this month I attended the Minnesota Meetings and Events event in St. Paul (yes, I like the concept of smaller, focused gatherings – keep it up) which featured 3-4 vendors “reporting” on event trends they see will be big for the holidays.

Those of you who attended (or not) that know me very well, know that once again I was disappointed in the shallowness and out-of-date ideas shared by some of the vendors represented. Color revisited and not necessarily up to date; ideas that have been in the marketplace for 2-4 years now; some on-target food comments but generally, nothing that lit up the light bulb for me at all. No wonder we are considered the fly-over zone here in the Midwest.

And yet, every day, right here, I am inspired by innovative thinking and trend applications. We have one of the top “trend” companies located here (Iconoculture) and certainly “trendy” companies as well with Target at the retail level, some top line media companies in the forefront nationally, and then my personal favorite –the internationally recognized design firm of Blu Dot. Not to mention five or more national event industry trade magazines not counting the familiar two that focus on Minnesota…from InTents to Event Solutions, Catersource, Corporate Event , and Exhibitor- we all have easy access to a wealth of input that should be stimulating us to experiment, innovate and just generally do better. And that does not count our easy online access to what is happening elsewhere; what are the applications here, and just what are the thought-leaders in our community doing to make events more impactful and experiential?

For instance, just two weeks ago, I attended the fall meeting of UMEDPA – and was inspired by a report on the Shanghai Expo and trends that were seen there. The list was long: fully immersive, multi- sensory environments; intriguing “control of space” stories; 4D theatre presentations; experiential exteriors that start the engagement BEFORE you enter; lighting as architecture; organic shapes; better line management techniques with “pre-show” applications; 360 degree media projection; projection on unusual shapes; touchscreen applications; interactive experiences; LED, LED, LED – not as a little light on the wall, but as an installation; projection on fabrics; projection surfaces that interact with each other; augmented reality applications emerging; layered projection-the list went on and on. For two weeks, time permitting, I have been expanding that input via the internet – and have a growing list of applications that I could consider for events that I produce.

So I sit here contemplating why once again, we continue to fall back on same-old, same-old uninspiring input from same-old tired design teams when our city is brimming with new fresh talent and ideas that inspire me on a daily basis. Come on people, we can do better than this! Not to worry, I won’t give up, and hopefully, I will harvest some new food for thought from the November ISES chapter meeting. It’s being advertised as an opportunity to learn more about experiential design and creating events that POP!

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