|Left to right - John Berry, director of Design West Michigan, with Clive Owens.|
If you've been in a mall and seen thirty advertisements without ever seeing a sign about where to find a bathroom or an exit, experiential design could have helped you. It's at the crossroads of a few different design disciplines, utilizing perspectives from graphic designers, interior designers, and interaction designers. More and more, it seems like this is the direction that design is going in - not being tied down to any one discipline, but crossing over and collaborating between many forms of design.
Owens discussed the future of experiential design, and the directions that it might go in. Technology is going to play a significant role in it, and the possibilities of interactive displays grow and grow. Of course, some of those interactive displays will be advertising, which always has the potential to be too much clutter, too much distraction.
Placemaking, at it's core, seems to be about creating uniquity and familiarity. Familiarity comes with knowing where you are, and uniquity comes with the feeling that you have arrived at a specific place, unlike any other. When a location achieves both of those, it's truly amazing.
When the topic of placemaking came up, the focus was on temporary setups, for things like fairs an exhibitions. Owens pointed to the 1984 Olympics as an example of temporary placemaking done right. I've heard people talk about the 1984 Olympics a few times in the past few weeks, probably because of the recent Winter Olympics. I think it's fascinating - the general wisdom seems to be that the 1984 Olympics were better for Los Angeles than the Olympics have been for other cities that have hosted them in recent history. This is largely attributed to the lack of competition in choosing the location, which often causes cities to make huge promises that they spend tons of money to fulfill. In Los Angeles, most of the venues used were preexisting, or built with future use in mind. Because of this, the placemaking all needed to be temporary — they didn't want to be hosting swim meets for the next fifteen years at a pool that looked strictly olympian. It's interesting, too, that they diverge from the blue-yellow-black-green-red color scheme that normally dominates the Olympics. The graphic design for the 1984 Olympics was done by Deborah Sussman. If you're interested in more about the 1984 Summer Olympics, I enjoyed this article.