The thing about the design of an event experience is, if done correctly, it's so seamless that the effort behind it often goes unnoticed. You are simply left with this inexplicable sense of fulfillment and, well, experience—and that right there is a surefire sign of thoughtful work. Although often overlooked, this realm of design should not be under-appreciated, which is why we thought we'd honor the design process behind the conference experience and give you the inside scoop on the day-to-day of the brains behind Core77's 2016 Designing/Here Now Conference!
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Our skilled team members have a diverse array of backgrounds—architecture, product design, and graphic design—and have been working tirelessly on all aspects of the conference. Whether it's merchandise, set design or motion graphics, our experience design team's fingerprints are all over it.
Design lead and founder of experience design agency Los Osos Laurence Sarrazin along with team member Betsy Lance answered of a few of our burning questions so we could get down to the nitty-gritty:
What exactly does it take to design a successful event?
Here are some of the helpful tips they shared:
Collaboration is key
When designing for a conference involves many moving parts, that means having the right people for different jobs is crucial. "You have to orchestrate all these different teams that specialize in different things—design, experience, logistics," says Lance, "without any one of those teams, the whole thing falls apart."
Sometimes this means being flexible in your role, as Sarrazin points out: "One of the most difficult parts of designing for a conference is wearing many hats, some of which don't seem to really fit. And there are many uncomfortable moments you have to go through, things that are unresolved and you just have to be patient, work through it and let it come together."
Other times, success means leaving certain details to masters of their craft. For this year's beautiful marbling graphic details, Los Osos collaborated with the talented graphic designers Adam Garcia and Anton Pearson, directors of The Pressure to get it right while Afternoon Inc director Matt Eller created the fantastic floating graphics.
In order to find the central visual element to embody this year's conference focus on co-creation, Garcia and Pearson looked to classic sources in order to find a thoughtful and cohesive solution. Garcia says he, "had been recently watching videos from the early 1970's of a paper marbling shop in the UK called Cockerel and Sons," which sparked the initial inspiration. The research resulted in a beautiful marbling pattern theme that runs throughout the digital and physical aspects of the conference. "The interplay of artist, substrate, water and colored in the marbling process seemed to resonate with the co-creation theme. Marbling becomes a graphic visualization of the collaborative process where elements come together to create on evolving entity," adds Sarrazin.
Marble piece making with our graphic designers from The Pressure Matt Eller of Afternoon Inc and Ben Friedle of Outlier working on the motion graphics
In addition to visual cohesion, important details also include producing a strong voice for your event—what can you breathe into an experience or facilitate through design? Have fun with it, Lance reminds us: "It's worth the effort to infuse as much care, humor, surprise and delight as possible. Like last year's Emergency Cookie: that little detail made a potentially boring snack into something charming that people can relate to."
Mockup and prototypes
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Prototypes aren't just exclusive to product designers, as further proven by our team. "Nothing substitutes for creating the size and shape of an object or physically walking through an attendee experience. What you have in your mind is never the same as the actual thing!," notes Lance.
You're on a deadline, and don't forget it! A great experience requires plenty of thoughtfulness, but also thoughtful action says Lance: "As you get closer to the event, certain things have to be cut and others just have to be what they are—you really have to choose your priorities."
Some of the team on marbling photoshoot day
That being said, it's also important to put as much heart into the details you do commit to. "People who attend your event can tell if you have put a lot of effort into something," as Sarrazin wisely points out.
From our conversation, what we got is ultimately all the hard work is worth it for a few solid reasons: the opportunity to collaborate with talented individuals in the development stage, the opportunity to see how their designs help facilitate interaction throughout the course of the actual event and of course, as the whole team notes, the celebratory drinks at the finish line.
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And some more behind the scenes photos to get your excited and show you what it takes to design a great conference:
Web planning Our creative lead fell asleep mid-meeting! Site visit at the Vibiana... ...and measuring the Vibiana—one column at a time. The view from the rooftop of The Standard, location for our closing cocktail party and the hotel where we'll be hosting our workshops. Yep. Enter a caption (optional) Tote bag recon Button-making central More marbling Working on graphics