Design: Be Inspired!
N-E-W Y-E-A-R spells “relief”!by Ryan Hanson | Published in January 2010 Columns | design
N-E-W Y-E-A-R spells “relief”!
Or so go the hopes and exaltations of many event designers and producers this year.
I don’t know about you, but 2009 needed to be over. At best, the year was a mixed bag. At worst, a lot of twiddling of thumbs as clients remained unsure and indecisive.
With a new year off and running, it’s time to be inspired again. But where can you find inspiration for your new project or an old one in desperate need of rejuvenation? For this inaugural column, I’ve decided to begin with several tricks that get my creative juices going.
Go shopping. For everything except what is on the store shelves, that is. Retailers spend mucho dollars each year, forecasting trends and implementing colors and styles that will trickle down in one to three years to the event world. But beyond the commercial goods, look closely at the way retailers display their goods. Creating places for customers to pause or various focal points to draw customers through large spaces is what retail store designers are good at, and they employ many of the same strategies event designers can to accomplish the same goal. Look closely next time you walk into Target or Crate & Barrel or another of your favorite stores. The next great trend in buffet displays may turn out to be little more than an innovation on a sweater rack.
Watch commercials. Watch closely and you will see trend colors, styles, motifs and patterns emerge before your very eyes. But be careful. Commercials are message vehicles. Pay attention to the overall strategy being employed. Luxury-based commercials will employ different trend techniques than value-based commercials and you want to be inspired by those that best match your clients’ needs. Television programs can contribute as well, particularly those that tap into the current cultural emotion. There is a reason the television show Mad Men is so popular. In our uncertain economic climate, the emotional trend is towards authentic experiences that remind us and re-inspire us about the simple good things in life. Classic, formal style has returned, but with a modern twist.
Go swatching! Clients give me a funny look every time I suggest we hit the hardware store, but truth be told, the paint section of your local hardware giant or hometown store is one of the best places to play with color. Picking paint is an approachable way to build a color palette for your next project.
While most people are familiar with trend forecasting and you can easily Google to find the hot color, Pantone® books can sometimes be overwhelming. Grab a handful of those oversized color chips in colors that strike you or your clients as favorites or inspirational. Having the big color chips makes it easy to mix and match and find a palette that suits your needs. Use this to build a style or color board incorporating favorite elements and decorative items and before you know it your design will start to emerge.
Branch out. One of my favorite new inspiration ideas is that of branching. It is a version of brainstorming where you take an object and describe every detail of it, eventually using those details as the base of your design. So let’s say you have a client who loves watermelon. You can use the watermelon as your inspiration.
First, list all of its qualities: red, green, white, seeds, black, round, oval, heavy, large, wet, sweet, etc. Perhaps consider the things that come to mind when you think of watermelon: summer, sun, outdoors, grilled foods, holiday, etc. Use those ideas and elements to create your event.
Your color palette may include variegated shades of greens and melon red. Flowers may be large, heavy and round in shape but with a sweet summery scent. Perhaps oval dishware. This is not about literally doing an event that has watermelons as centerpieces and looks like a watermelon! It is about being inspired by the essence of the watermelon to create your design.
Hit the perennials. It is industry conference season again. Are you going? Can you afford not to? The inspiration and ideas that are generated by being surrounded by your industry peers and the consummate event professionals who attend industry events and conferences is unmatchable in terms of inspiration! Go for the education and the experiences and take the ideas home with you.
Can’t make it to the conference? Make sure you are attending local and regional events, meetings of ISES and NACE chapters in your area and getting to know others in the profession. Collectively, we have to drop the idea that folks are out to steal each other’s ideas and work (so, by the way, don’t steal anyone else’s ideas and work!). It is in the sharing of good ideas and good design that we all are inspired to innovate and local industry organizations are great places to do that.
Keep reading the magazines. You have to be aware of what is going on in the industry to stay inspired. It is my hope that as this column continues, we will bring you innovative work and great ideas to help you design better. That will only work if you engage in the conversation by sharing your ideas with us. BeInspired! Tell us how, where and why! I look forward to hearing from you.