May 12, 2017
Adding Innovation to the Design Process
When event producers partner with brands to create experiences, countless elements must work together to create that definitive “wow” for participants. But a lot of what goes on behind the scenes is equally remarkable for the event professionals involved in bringing these experiences to fruition.
For me, it’s often those unseen but impressive elements that make an event stand out. When we consult on a project and are brought in early to understand the entire scope (rather than just our assignment), we have the opportunity to use materials in a way that is more effective, less costly and configurable. This lets us suit a whole list of needs throughout the duration of a program.
These engineering innovations also allow us to serve as an idea partner for our clients. Understandably, brands are acutely aware of budgets. Bringing in experts as early as possible enables them to make a difference in the success of the investment. In addition, shrewd planning allows brands to repurpose assets to extend the life of a program while maintaining brand continuity.
So when does most of the innovation start? Surprisingly, it’s not in the initial design process — it actually happens when we first consider the packing and shipping methods that we’ll incorporate into the structural assets. For example, if we know that components originally intended for the event location will be used later in another private space, we can engineer them so that they can be delivered to any destination.
Another example: venue requirements that could limit the load-in process. Parameters around dollies, pallet packing, loading dock limitations, elevator constraints and even door size may drive the actual build and load-in activity. We take into consideration the fact that components might not be able to be loaded on a pallet; the installation team may not have access to a forklift; or the venue may not allow this type of equipment. Advance knowledge of these logistics is paramount. We can make components compact and structural assets manageable in ways that facilitate efficient load-ins. These considerations impact the engineering behind design, build and execution.
Once we understand the complete scope of the project — what has to be built and where it needs to be delivered — we can spec the most effective materials, employ efficient assembly methods and even recommend the amount of labor that it will take to assemble the environment. Mechanical needs and labor are such a huge portion of any budget that attention to these line items can make or break the success of any program, let alone a single event.
After we have the execution details defined (or at least roughly outlined), we can start looking at the creative intent and build elements from the inside out. That strategy enables us to control the methods used for wire management, specialty mounting and integration of A/V components. Put simply, while we keep a careful eye on design, design performance is also critical.
The development of silicone edge graphics (SEGs) allows labor crews to completely set and pre-stage projects, then cover all the infrastructure — such as support bars and wiring channels — at the very end of the process. Even after technicians, product managers and A/V techs are added to the mix, all of those people are free to do their work without the challenge of the final dressing getting in their way.
There is also design innovation when we incorporate different mechanical functions that will speed up the assembly process. This typically means reducing the types of hardware to a small number of standard parts and using a repeatable assembly method. This methodology means that the first section usually takes the longest as the assembly crew learns how the system works, and becomes more efficient as the build progresses.
“Behind-the-scenes” design innovation focuses on planning for efficient shipping, ease of assembly and more. How has your team incorporated innovation into the behind-the-scenes aspects of your events?
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