client: American Institute of Architects
duties: Creative Direction, General Session / Creative Strategy
In 2016, the opportunity to create a new chapter in the history of the American Institute of Architecture was presented to my team and we owned it. As one of the oldest professional organizations in the United States, the AIA was in need of a new conversation to not only motivate their core audience of members, but also appeal to a new generation of architects, designers, and builders that are more diverse, younger and way savvier than their traditional core—beginning with their marquee event, their annual conference. Simply put, they wanted to catch up with the times and after crafting a successful, high designed and innovation-first pitch they took the first step with A17, the AIA Conference on Architecture in Orlando this past April 2017.
Beginning with a shift in the name and branding (A’17) via partner agency Pentagram, I crafted a multi-tier strategy designed to transform the experience into an industry-led, yet publicly open event that attracts not only architects, but design lovers from all over the world a la an Miami Art Basel. 2017 was the first year, with 2020 being our four year transformation goal.
For 2017, we began with further opening the conference talent up to a thoughtful mix of architects and cultural thought-leaders alike (like former First Lady Michelle Obama) embracing social listening and content creation and by crafting the following creative elements:
The Stage: Presented with the classic conundrum of space versus desire versus budget, my team and I centered on a unique, 7 screen scenic design that gave our audience multiple compositions in which to enjoy our content that also required little spatial real estate to accommodate our audience of 7,000. To the delight of our keynote presenters, this also gave us the opportunity to create a more engaging type of show that walked away from typical presentation design.
The Theme: While AIA was confirmed with their theme (ANTICIPATE) we brought it to life through the use of modern symbology—ellipses, the little dots that cause a visceral sense of anticipation for iPhone users around the world. This became a part of a language that signified something was next not only for our general session programming, but for the organization.
The Content: With the stage in mind, we created an opening film that not only took advantage of our stage design, but also brought the culture of AIA to life through the words of their member-architects versus the organization, a tradition of year’s past. To do this we incorporated kinetic typography with live interview footage that remained in their style, but brought a new savvy way to communicate with their annual audience and excite them about their industry. In addition to our opening, we also produced three moving videos designed to prelude the organizations three main awards, given annually. For these we sought to introduce a collaborative storytelling style that once again put the architects and the communities they serve front and center.
Creative Production: INVNT
Producers: Phil Larson, Amanda Sunners
Account Management: Kristina McCoobery
Scenic Design & Art Direction: Jessi Blom
Content Producer: Darryl Greene
Opening Video Production: DC Collective
Award Video Production: Hed Hi Media