The time of setting up cheap, uncomfortable chairs in a square pattern has ended. Long live the revolutionary vision of event spatial design.
Experience design isn’t merely what your event content is about or how people consume it; it’s now a matter of layout, interior design, and finding the perfect mix of practicality and fashion.
While many event companies are adapting to this ever-changing process of event spatial design, the team at Steelcase is leading the industry.
Their team offers a range of architecture, furniture and technology products and services designed to help people reach their full potential.
Tom Condon, Event Design Director, and Kim Condon, Event Strategist, have immersed themselves in the evolution of event spatial design and how it can move meetings and events into the future.
It’s More Than Just Chairs and a Screen
Whether you call it a revolution or evolution, conferences are rapidly moving away from merely attending a meeting to hear someone talk on a stage; guests are looking for something meaningful.
“They’re looking for something that moves them from one place to another; that triggers something emotional inside,” Tom said. “They’re looking to meet new people or learn something new. They want a brand new experience that enriches their lives.”
While this is a significant shift, it should come as no surprise to meeting planners that expectations are rising.
It’s a challenge that requires planners to step back and ask themselves, “How are we going to rise above these challenges to meet these expectations?”
The answer is a change in perspective.
“You do have to put a different lens on that event, and it’s from the participant’s point of view,” said Kim.
Audiences are becoming more and more sophisticated, and that only drives up the expectation.
“They want life-changing experiences at your event, and how you design the space is a major part of that,” she said.
Trouble With the Curve
Naturally, as events design with more creative ideas, it will present challenges for event spatial design strategies.
Some events–such as Maritz Global Events’ e4–try to move people around the host city to provide a well-rounded experience.
To design for these types of requests successfully, the amount of research done upfront is critical.
“It’s complicated because it’s an offsite learning environment,” Tom said. “It’s a cool venue with a lot of brick and an urban, rustic feel to it. But some logistics had to happen.”
By asking the right questions, hearing about the end goal, and getting a clearer picture of the audience, solutions begin to take shape and fun, engaging ideas to facilitate these desires become a reality.
Event Spatial Design Shaping the Future
Trying to design meaningful experiences in the event space can create some logistical challenges.
“How do we move people from one group to another more efficiently without causing confusion,” Tom said. “Every meeting has an element of stress, especially with what you’re supposed to do as a guest.”
If you need to move one large group into smaller sections, utilizing color schemes can help people identify where they’re going next, reducing the anxiety of where to go next.
The idea of comfort and control has become crucial to event spatial design.
“We design seating types for their comfort level, giving them a choice, giving them some control over the space,” Tom said. “That choice puts people at ease and sets the mood that this is creative, different, and that the content coming from the stage is going to follow that theme.”
Providing hightop chairs and tables for guests with bad backs or comfortable lounge chairs outside the conference center are only a few ways you can anticipate the needs of your guests.
What are some event spatial design strategies that you’ve seen work (or not?) Start the conversation in the comments section below.
Mitch Cooper is the Content Marketing Manager for Experient. A former journalist, he is passionate about crafting stories that enlighten and engage audiences.
When he’s not writing and editing, he enjoys spending time with his wife and one-year-old son, playing and watching sports and making people laugh.