Last week Kim, Joann, Cinthia and I took the EdLab team through an immersive experience that showcased what we learned at the SATE Conference. SATE is an annual event that focuses on the projects, trends and people in the world of Themed Entertainment. SATE stands for Storytelling, Architecture, Technology and Experience, a formula that fuels themed, educational and immersive experiences coming to life around the world. From research to exhibits, digital platforms to interactive experiences, the work we do at EdLab is certainly exemplary of what is happening in other corners of the industry.
Our Harvest Festival seminar was designed as an immersive experience that incorporated all of the lessons and takeaways each of us learned at SATE. The narrative we brought everyone into was a Halloween Night at the neighborhood Harvest Festival. Guests entered, ate BBQ and as the sun set (subtle lighting changes), the activities in the cul-de-sac evolved. With still an orange sky, guests were directed by the town leader to head to the craft table and decorate their treat bags and masks. When the sun finally set, everyone was told to stay in 4 groups and head out to the street to trick-or-treat. 4 houses (set up in pods) awaited them, each one curated by one of the 4 of us who attended the conference. Each home offered a different experience based on SATE and what was important and applicable to our individual work. Each home had a different scent, and sound cues indicated when it was time to move on to the next home.
As an experience designer, I focused on the trends in experience design and the concept of having a North Star, or guiding principle in the design process, by creating an experience that implemented some of those trends and important design factors.
These were some of the key trends in experience design, as shared at SATE
・Social Interactions/Social Experiences
・Sense of belonging
・Meaning behind design spaces
・Physical Space Tells a Story
・Tech as an Enhancement Tool
Gary Wichansky, President and Principal Designer at Hotopp Associates, spoke about concept of having a North Star, the driving force and guiding principle behind a designers work.
“Don’t forget who you are, what you care about and what you believe.”
That is the North Star. For him, that North Star is the suspension of disbelief.
My North Star in all of my design work focuses on transporting and immersing people in a time and place, real or fantasy. For this experience, I wanted to bring the EdLab team back to my childhood Halloween experience by immersing them in that time and space. As guests passed the sand-bags-turned-Jack-O-Lanterns, they entered 6902 Seminar Pl, and into Stamford, Connecticut circa late 80s. I talked about the trends in experience design and opened up a discussion about each of our North Stars, encouraging the group to discover their own. And much like I did in the 80s and 90s, the kids (guests) were given a bag of Halloween Candy to dump on the floor in front of the TV playing vintage 80s Halloween commercials, and sift through for tampered treats. (Who remembers that?) After they found that labeled candy, they were able to continue talking, watch the TV, talk about their North Stars or grab a piece of candy and wait for their next destination.
From the number on the house to the vintage television overlay, each design aspect of my mini immersive experience was intentional and aimed to highlight one of the many trends and important pillars of experience design. This was the case for the entire experience and each one of our "homes." Throughout the space we had “Hidden Jacks,” small jack-o-lantern cut outs placed on areas that exhibited intentional design. After the trick-or-treating we sat around a campfire (projection, sound and lighting effects) and had a group discussion about SATE, this experience and the hidden JACKS.
Thank you to Themed Entertainment Association for the NextGen Scholarship that made the trip possible. And thank you to those who were able to be part of this seminar experience. Hopefully this was an inspiration for future events and experiences here at EdLab.
If you have any photos or videos from the event feel free to email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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