It worked – the entire experience including the Hive locations at both San Francisco and Washington, DC came together to make an energetic space that the attendees of TEDMED are really enjoying. We designed an intricate web of interactions that catch and bring together great thoughts and great minds. In the Hive areas in both cities we have “Speaker Meet Ups”, where presenters from the stage continue the conversations in a more intimate setting. There is a space called Campfire, where you can drop in and select a topic from a giant match stick, enjoy a s’more and strike up a conversation. Another area focuses on “Six Great Challenges” where meaningful conversations are happening and ideas are being born.
Throughout the space are many wonderful, cutting-edge companies both large and small, sharing so much interesting information and thinking for attendees to discover. I’m hearing a lot of good feedback that this year’s TEDMED will be the genisis for many great new conversations, efforts, and collaborations.
Photos courtesy of Imaj Photography.
Since my last post we have been busy designers! This year my involvement with TEDMED has been an expanded one. I am charged with both the overall experience design and the creative direction of this year’s event. It’s just a few short days away from becoming a reality. It gets a little trickier too. Besides my new role, which has been a blast, TEDMED is being hosted at two venues simultaneously. We jumped right in.
Our goal of creating a remarkable experience at each venue is on-track, but it has not been without creative and strategic challenges. Consider the two venues, The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco and The Kennedy Center in Washington DC. Both are amazing places. Truly landmarks. The Palace of Fine Arts was created for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition and has been nicely cared for and renovated in the past century. It is a grand facility. The Kennedy Center is an iconic structure housing multiple stages, halls, and performance venues. Also grand, but as a building designed in the late 1960’s it has a markedly different personality. Why two different locations at the same time? Both areas are hubs for medical research, innovations, leadership, policy, and funding. The live interaction between the two stages will be truly inspirational.
But you can see the challenge. How do we design two entirely different spaces to interact with each other and share content seamlessly, all while ensuring the right experiences are occurring at each locale? We also put high value on conversations and connections away from the shared content. We had to intentionally design for those experiences as well. In the end, we had to determine what needed to be closely replicated at each location and where we would let each venue’s personality nuances shine uniquely.
The additional challenges of these two spaces added complexity to our solutions but it will be a truly unique experience that was definitely worth the effort. It came together. We are counting down the days until we share this with the world.
Check out the website: http://www.tedmed.com/event/abouttheevent
“John F. Kennedy Center (7645507542)” by http://www.GlynLowe.com from Hamburg, Germany – John F. Kennedy Center
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.