TEDGlobal 2012 opens soon and we are on site building a radical space to articulate the theme of the conference – Radical Openness. We might hear the words, “You want me to do what?”, as we push the boundaries of normalcy into new realms. New forms of expressing one’s self will be introduced, promising to make this a unique and life-changing few days. More photos and ideas will be shared soon – registration opens in about an hour, so its back to work for now!
Nurture by Steelcase shared a very critical product development message at TEDMED: When designing anything you must start with an understanding of all the needs of the end-user. In that vein, their space allowed people an opportunity to try a “Third Age Suit”. Once you have the suit on your motor skills are instantly aged by 30 years. This experience helped attendees gain first-hand insights about the user needs to consider when designing a chair for the elderly. That’s me, Grandpa Tom, in the photos trying to reach the ends of the armrest to eventually stand up from the new empath recliner by Nurture. Another very interactive aspect of the booth were custom chalk table tops. These were also a big hit and a fun way to join the conversations about questions that were being asked and the big ideas people were taking home.
So, what do you put in a tent the size of a football field to create an incredible experience at TEDMED? Well, we did a lot, but start with an impressive list of sponsors and great food, then design cool common-spaces to pull people together. Our focus was to create a Social Hub and Simulcast Lounges that made it easy for delegates to connect with experts – both from the medical and non-medical disciplines. When these connections happen the event moves from interesting to magical. To help make these connections we provided a variety of different lounge and café settings. The 16-foot long tables, for example, worked well– they were very easy to approach, connect a device to the power supply, and meet a new friend. I also used a die-cut fabric from Designtex to create a ceiling cloud over two other settings to make a more intimate space. Intimate spaces yield open conversations and I love a comment that I overheard: “I can’t decide what is better. The talks from the stage or all the great conversations I’m having.” Perfect!
Check out the TEDMED blog below for a brief day-to-day summary of the conference.
A vital step in the planning of any event is a thorough feeling of the space. For an event at a new space a site visit is an absolute necessity. No matter what pictures you may have seen, once on site your vision and imagination begin to connect with the physical and emotional feel of a space. I went to The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. which will be the venue for the upcoming TEDMED. This facility is unique in that it is a performing arts center and also a monument to JFK, the Kennedy Family, and their many contribution to the arts. The building is beautiful, and it is a great space for the event, but what I want to share with you is what I found on the walls back stage. Over the course of 40 seasons of presenting theater, dance, ballet and music, an interesting collection of stage sets and theater posters have been lovingly saved and displayed on the walls. To take them in is to walk back in time. You will recognize many of the images, they are icons in the art of entertaining the world.
I want to share with you some of the photos that are great glimpses into another successful gathering. The many months of planning and designing the spaces produced a virtual beehive, perfect for conversations and connections. A real focus was the Center Entry Space which seemed to naturally become the kitchen – where everyone at the party wants to hang out. So, we embraced this and positioned a variety of settings to enable those connections happen. As the last day came to a close our team was buzzing with ideas for next year.
The talks were once again moving, inspiring, and good for making us all think more deeply about the many great ideas. There are many talks highlighted on the TED site, but I would like to highlight some of John Hockenberry’s words from his presentation titled “Design a Life With Intent”. He begins with stories of growing up with a father who was a designer and continues to tell of the unfortunate circumstances around his own situation that resulted in him being in a wheelchair for the past 35 years. Frustrated by years of awkward stares and uncomfortable comments, he added these cool lights to his wheels and it totally changed his life. Now, “instead of blank stares and awkwardness, people say ‘those are awesome!’ Kids ask for a ride!” The difference? Intent. By adding electric flashing lights to his wheelchair wheels, “I’m no longer a victim. I chose to change this situation.” John observed the natural reactions of people over the years and knew that he could give them something other than his legs to look at. I love this quote “an object imbued with intent has power. It’s treasure; we’re drawn to it. An object devoid of intent is random, imitative, it repels us. It is junkmail to be thrown away. This is what we must demand of our lives, of our objects, of our things, our circumstances: living with intent.” Be sure to watch the entire talk and catch the last few minutes when John picks up a guitar and gives a TED-themed version of The Beatles’ song, “Get Back.” http://blog.ted.com/2012/03/01/design-a-life-with-intent-john-hockenberry-at-ted2012/
We all need to smile – so watch the TED Speaker’s worst nightmare: http://www.ted.com/talks/a_ted_speaker_s_worst_nightmare.html
TCondon crafted a great social space for TED in Monterey in 2008. We created a similar experience in the Cromdale Hall at TEDGlobal, and now you will find a space at TED in Long Beach that is reminiscent of these great spaces. We are utilizing a ballroom on the first floor of the Terrace Theater and have designed it to be one large lab of connectivity and collaboration. There will be ready access to simulcast spaces, immersing everyone in the content coming from the stage while allowing great connections with fellow TED attendees. This will facilitate rewarding interactions in a space that people will want to hang out in all day. It’s not magic – just a lot of thoughtful planning and pulling in the best dynamics from successful past TED spaces. If you are going to be there, make sure to spend some time in the Creativity Lab on Level 1. If you can’t make it, we will post some shots from the event soon there after.
So many teams with so many tasks to do. The site of TED 2012 has been buzzing with activity as we are all working toward the goal of creating the best TED experience ever. The speaker posters are up, the first coffee is brewed, and the last crates are being moved into hiding. Like a marching band prepping for a half time show, the players are moving into position on the field. At the perfect moment we all sync into formation, throw open the doors and welcome you in. Let the music begin.
The planning for TED is complete. After months of designing the many space at TED in Long Beach CA and TEDActive in Palm Springs, we are ready to roll. The trucks are literally loading up. 13 trucks of fantastic furniture will begin the journey from Grand Rapids Michigan to the TED destinations in California. The energy is in the air. It’s thrilling for us to be part of an event that has the power to change lives and improve our world. These TED events promise to be as amazing as the rest – I have heard there will be opportunities for people to be a kid, a scientist, a designer, and so much more. I’ll be sharing pictures from Long Beach soon. Stay tuned and let the convoy roll!
What happens when you create meeting spaces that work? Truly amazing things. The Ernst & Young Strategic Growth Forum has had meeting spaces in the past, but they were basically one room after the next filled with hotel tables and stacking chairs. Utilitarian, but very uninspiring and big change was in order. We were approached to create a pavilion full of meeting spaces, over 22 in all. We listened to the client, and considered all of the meeting-types that would take place, then crafted solutions to fit the needs. Lounge settings for interviews and casual conversations, paper top tables for idea generation, technology for presentation and a variety of casual space in the common areas for the unexpected impromptu meeting. How did it go over? The numbers tell the story. In previous years they booked 150 meetings for the week. This year they were scheduling 140 to 170 meetings a day. That makes for a lot of great conversation.