Posts Tagged ‘Anna Klingman’

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EVENT DESIGN

April 11, 2010

Those who know me, know I follow the holistic philosophy of event design in which events are a marketing and communication option that has proven to be an essential and effective tool in today’s world. As an event designer, I work in an interdisciplinary field to create solutions to problems. Since I use a planning approach that views the situation as a whole, the creative artistic elements of light, media, decor, and food and beverage are balanced, and geared toward supporting the over-reaching design to deliver a message from both the client and the attendees. I continually strive to tell that story through events that are perceived as a creative achievement of a unified whole as the event accomplishes its primary function – to deliver purposeful, measurable results.

And so for me, a successful event is not the creative and pretty party of the social world, in which everyone had “fun”, good food, and probably too much to drink. In the corporate and non-profit world, it goes much beyond that. And so, I often lament that organizations to which many of us belong (which grew since the late 1980s out of social and party planners need for community, education and sharing) have adopted the words of “event design” without an understanding of what that is. Most continue to judge successful events on the accoutrements of look, entertainment, and food, rather than on accomplished results.

However, since I understand that we, as designers, totally depend on those creative elements as the equipment we use for memory joggers that lead to learning and thus a pathway to accomplish our purpose, I try to be patient as our industry continues to struggle and learn. Even though, there are times when I think we will never grow up.

So, it was comforting yesterday when I was browsing at Barnes and Noble to pick up a book by Anna Klingman entitled BRANDSCAPES: ARCHITECTURE IN THE EXPERIENCE ECONOMY. As I scanned a chapter near the end, I was amazed that her action steps for architectural design so closely aligned to my concept of event design. I’ve included below some notes I jotted down which illustrate where Klingman feels designers in the architectural world need to progress. Perhaps there is applicable advice here for both the event designer and the creative artistic elements of events. What do you think?

Transitions needed:

From Product to Brand: To communicate an innovative and authentic design scheme, the architecture (event) must be combined with a well-intended message that is clearly formulated and readily understood.

From Needs to Desire: The paradigm of need has been surpassed by the paradigm of desire. The audience is searching for emotional satisfaction; on a quest for identity; are looking for the ability to distinguish self, and aspire to belong.

From Performance to Experience: We must move from “how it is designed” to “how it feels”. Appearances and usage become banal if not designed for senses. Experiential design is about creating architecture (events) that people truly enjoy. Experiences are intangible and memorable.

From Plan to Choreography: In the experiential, approach, you must relinquish absolute control and accept fact that you only choreograph and direct the desired effect which ultimately takes place in the mind of the user (attendee).

From Program to Ambience: Monotony results from mindless repetition and predictability. You must be open to influence from all realms of culture. Architects (event designers) must create sensation-rich environments that can encourage unexpected patterns of socialization, interaction and collective engagement and that allow new cultures to emerge. One should stimulate the user’s sensory abilities but must be loose enough to initiate a field of freedom and complexity encouraging each person to free associate in accord to his/her cultural background, habits, passions.

From Impact to Contact: We must shed old paradigm of dictated visuals of the past that tell and must embrace the current and future models of suggestive, open-ended identities that emote.

From Function to Form: Form no longer follows function; form is content. True power and relevance is revealed as experienced space and transcends self-contained prescriptive narratives and embraces programmatic and organizational models.

From Commodity to Catalyst: Move beyond role as a commodity to become a marketing tool. We will be judged on What It Does, not on What It Is. We need to improve image, experience and field of interaction among people. We need to stop the proliferation of templates.

From Physical to Human Context: People and places are the most important inspiration for everything that is done in design. Only by understanding people’s motivations can the status quo be challenged which in turn can lead to the most exciting expressions of creativity.

From Object to Subject: Klingman began with a quotation from Pine and Gilmore – The very idea of transforming people and places demands that we think about a word little used in architecture today: wisdom.

A feasible transformation depends on the client’s sustained willingness, commitment and resources to carry out the desired change. Once it is determined that a transformation is indeed desirable and viable, architects (event designers) need insight to determine the best course of action to attain the goals outlined in the diagnosis. During the entire course of the design and implementation process, this rigorous dedication to qualified decision-making needs to be maintained to instigate a meaningful development that fulfills or surpasses the client’s aspirations.

We cannot focus on competition or objectives of the architect (event designer). The goal is NOT to impose a set of established expectations but to discover and express the unexamined dimensions of people and places…which will naturally lead to an authentic and persistent identity.

A very long thought for a Sunday afternoon, I know, but an important one, I think, for our industry to contemplate and discuss as we strive to gain that wisdom we need to help not only our clients, but our industry to grow in a purposeful way.