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Archive for March, 2010

David Stark, my all-time favorite event designer – who occasionally crosses over into the realm of merchandising and retail spaces – has created (yet another) amazing pop-up store for Target.  This time, he’s produced an environment for Target’s new Liberty of London collection – a floral explosion of complementary products for fashion and home.  Layers and layers of eye-candy and dense sensory experience = a most successful shopping adventure!  Check it out:

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The projected prints in motion and the patchwork skin on the exterior are my favorite elements as they celebrate Liberty of London’s chief commodity: its patterns.  Beautiful work.

Click HERE for David’s debrief at David Stark Sketchbook.  

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And stay tuned later this week for my review of a great new store just a toad’s jump from my place…guaranteed to transport you to a magical world.  😉

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A few months back when I was following the Lost Underground Art Project, I joined Twitter as a way to help pass along clues from the LA reveals as they happened to other die-hard Lost fans throughout the country.  Prior to that, I thought of Twitter as nothing but a one-sentence vanity project for celebs and other narcissists (just sayin’), but going through the ARG as a collaborative process allowed me to see the value in Twitter as a way to immediately spread information to those with whom I was connected.  Now that the ARG is complete, I see the secondary value, which is to hear about things that interest me from people who interest me in real time.  Pretty nifty for a 140-character pass time. 

So, as for people who interest me, I’m a rather fond of Coco, or Co-nos as I like to call him (aka Conan O’Brien), and my heart skipped a beat when he joined Twitter just a couple of weeks ago with a single tweet: Today I interviewed a squirrel in my backyard and then threw to commercial. Somebody help me.  Each day since, he’s added one additional tweet lamenting his jobless status and the fact that he has too much time on his hands.  As of today, @conanobrien has gained over 600,000 followers…and on March 5th, he decided to follow one. 

. . . . You had to be there . . . . (artwork by @sirmitchell)

That one person – chosen at random – is 19-year-old Sarah Killen (@LovelyButton) from Michigan who, since Conan announced her as his one “follow”, has added over 19,000 fans of her own – not to mention a fountain of publicity and good fortune that comes with getting the Coco seal of approval.  As I checked up on Twitter early this morning, a little link about Sarah caught my eye, which brings me to the point of this article. 

The link – posted by a friend – was to an LA Times blogpost about Sarah and Conan, and mentioned something very interesting…that it seems there are several Twitter accounts surfacing all relating to Conan.  Well, not to Conan exactly, but to Conan’s things.  Little did I realize, but when Conan tweeted about a squirrel, suddenly his squirrel had a Twitter account.  When Conan tweeted about his ’92 Ford Taurus, the Taurus began sending tweets.  Just yesterday, the frozen peas in Conan’s freezer started sending out their own messages, too.  As of this morning, it seems there are at least 10 Twitter accounts including his beard, his ATM card and his freckles – all of whom interact with Conan’s tweets and each other’s.  Though all of this still seems to be a fairly hush-hush development, these accounts are slowly accumulating their own steady stream of followers (me included). 

Now of course we have no way to know if Conan is actually behind all of these accounts, but either way, this is genius viral marketing.  If Conan and his team are creating this Twitter scavenger hunt, it’s leading his followers on a breadcrumb-dotted path back to Conan again and again.  Each time a new account is found and followed, it accounts for more “real estate” taken in a follower’s stream continually reminding the reader about all things Conan.  Conceivably, if Conan tweets once per day, and each tweet leads to a new off-shoot, then in a matter of months there could be dozens of Conan-related Twitter accounts filling up the tweet-space being gladly gobbled up by people (like me) who can’t get enough Coco. 

Alternately, let’s say Conan is not behind these additional accounts.  Regardless, the power of viral marketing has kicked in and taken over as all Conan has to do is deliver one tweet per day and then sit back while a few creative fans do the rest.  Either way, genius I say! 

As we move from Conan’s squirrel to his monkey to his sharpie (which connected the dots with his freckles), we’ll have to wait to see where this treasure hunt will finally lead us.  I’m hoping that, as we move through the summer, we’ll be introduced to something by the name of Conan’s New Show. That would be the ultimate treasure. 

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You, too, can follow Coco’s menagerie: 

@ConanOBrien, @ConansSquirrel, @ConansFreckles, @ConansSharpie, @ConansTaurus, @ConansMonkey, @CoCosBeard, @CoCosATMcard, @ConansPeas, @LovelyButtons, @KillensSquirrel

NEW!  @conanspromtux, @conansraisinets, @conansdoctor, @conanhealthcare, @killenstwizzler

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@fancfl (that’s me!)

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For the second year in a row, we were treated to an elegant and sparkling stage at the Academy Awards – reminiscent of the glamorous, satin-y films from the 1930’s that starred screen goddesses like Jean Harlow or Claudette Colbert. 

As he did last year, David Rockwell, founder of NYC’s Rockwell Group, designed the show’s sets.  Not only is he a wildly successful architect (he designed the Kodak Theater itself), but he’s a designer of theatrical and immersive spaces including sets for “Hairspray”, “Legally Blonde” and the upcoming “Catch Me If You Can.” 

After years of watching the awards on television, I think the sets these past two years have been my favorites. Rockwell’s chosen sophistication and simplicity allowed the performers on stage to be beautifully framed without creating a competing focus, and at the same time he perfectly captured the essence of what “Hollywood” is to the soul of its audience: a silvery fantasy world where dreams really can come true.

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Happy Weekend, Experience Design Fans!

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For the complete article about the making of the video on Billboard.com, click HERE

And for Syyn Labs, click HERE 

And click HERE for a great article about Mindshare LA, which partners with Syyn Labs.

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The Olympics came and went so quickly!  The Canadians were excellent hosts and did their best to make the world feel like part of the family, eh?  And as the games drew to a close, they got their hockey gold, and in return they gave us their closing ceremony.  Uh, thanks? 

Awwww Yeeeaahhh. Nothing says Olympics like beavers and lumber jacks.

 

I spent some time analyzing the Opening Ceremony in depth last week, but I’ll cut straight to the chase for the Closing Ceremony and list some of the things that caught my attention during David Atkins’ production: 

  • I absolutely loved the opening of the show – the adorable French-Canadian mime attempting to kick the cauldron’s fourth ice pillar into gear totally made me smile.  The athlete (who didn’t get to light the torch the first time around) rose up from the hole in the ground like a groundhog, lit the torch and then disappeared back into the floor of the arena.  It was clever and fun and as Bob Costas said, it was the “perfect response” to the snafu at the Opening Ceremony.
  • The dressed-in-white snowboarders that made formations on the arena floor were a snappy idea, but it didn’t work all that well for me.  At first they seemed to form some sort of preppy mosh-pit that lingered and meandered and took a while to get where it was going.  Then they attempted to fall in line and create shapes that weren’t so sharp.  I liked how they formed the numbers for the show’s countdown, but other efforts weren’t as solid.  At one point they did some collection of things that was illegible to me (I could only make out the word “STRONG”) and then at another point they formed a maple leaf using their boards, but it was faint since the snowboards were too slender to fill in the wide spaces between performers. Good idea, but needed some work.
  • I liked how the film crew was also dressed in white.  Props for consistency.
  • I enjoyed some of the musical performances here a bit better than at the Opening Ceremony, and the inclusion of bands and multiple vocalists were key.  It seemed like there was more life this time around. Even the athlete’s tribute song was catchy and the crowd looked like it was having a good time.
  • Unfortunately, after an upbeat song about “having a party”, we suddenly came to a party-screeching-halt with a lot of housekeeping like medal ceremonies and operatic anthems and flag presentations.  This seemed like a rather odd transition.
  • The Russian preview was fascinating to me.  Talk about a one-eighty difference from the Canadian approach.  Instead of individuality and organic shapes and youthful celebration, we were immediately introduced to a very serious and regimented Russian choir singing their national anthem in unison.  This was clearly a showcase of tradition and establishment – of the collective.  And where Canada looked toward the future to some extent, Sochi will be showcasing its achievements past.  At first I was a little off-put by the strict approach, but as the choral performance went on I found it very compelling.  And it seemed like the entire arena quieted down and gave it their full attention.
  • The rest of the Sochi preview was weak in my opinion.  I thought the intro video had some atrocious visual design and was a bit dated, and there didn’t seem to be an overarching theme.  Then the following “live” presentation was sort of a disparate collection of Russia’s greatest hits – most of which were presented via video streaming onto Atkins’ pre-existing projection surfaces.  I will say that Russia’s music, dance and athleticism are clearly incredible, so they do have much to be proud of.  I suppose it’s understandable then that they would highlight their classical accomplishments, and I’m sure they will work out their thematic and artistic kinks for their ceremonies over the next four years (we hope).
  • After Russia’s preview, the CEO of the Olympic Committee spoke about youth as the future, and encouraged the world’s athletes to go out as ambassadors of tomorrow.  With such a message, who – do you ask – would they call upon to sing a song to instill that youthful promise?  Why Neil Young, of course, with a song written in 1976… before most (read ALL) of the athletes were born.  wtf.
  • William Shatner, Katherine O’Hara and Michael J. Fox made for an interesting “I Am Canadian” segment, let’s call it.  All are funny and endearing and certainly good representatives of Canada, but this segment bombed.  It was definitely a combination of weak jokes and sight gags and out-of-place sound effects (some of which sounded like a big flushing toilet!) with inaudible reaction from the audience.  This is the kind of schtick that needs a laugh track, and without it, it just died (per my notes: *cricket cricket*). The idea behind it was good – to give a humorous look at what makes Canadians so unique – but if they really were going for funny it needed stronger jokes, fewer sound effects, and less- (or MORE-) goofy visuals.  It was at the level of mediocre-funny, so either going for a more subtle approach, or else going totally overboard may have made all the difference.
  • On a side note, the one bit in the above section that made me laugh was about Canadians being overly polite and saying sorry (or rather “sore-y) about as often as they say “eh”.  I seem to have caught that polite virus, so much so that people often threaten me with bodily harm if I say sorry one more time, so I laughed out loud in recognition.
  • Moose headbands are cute.
  • Michael Buble in a Mountie uniform looked a little out of proportion, until he ripped that sucker off!  Surrounded by “lovely lady mounties” and a rat pack-inspired ensemble, he crooned on the main stage which had been transformed into the look of a fiery maple leaf.
  • OK, so at this point I was trying to put everything together in my mind.  Are we having a party?  Are we going to Open Mic Night?  Are we reaching back to the 60’s for a kitschy nightclub performance?  I started to wonder why the show was so discombobulated, and then I made a stunning realization: they are going for slapstick!  The following is proof.
  • The “Made in Canada” presentation was a whirling kaleidoscope of inflatable mounties, giant table hockey pieces, two-man canoes, prancing maple leaves, floating moose(es?) and giant beavers dragged along by big bulky lumber jacks – all of it swirling together into an explosion of  randomness that was capped with the final reemergence of Michael Buble and his mini-skirted mounties singing a swinging rendition of O Canada.  Oh my.  As this crescendoed, I realized that, for this closing ceremony, they were decidedly trying to show that Canadians don’t take themselves too seriously.  Forget pomp and circumstance – they were going for the big laugh. 
  • It was during the above segment that the bulk of the show came together for me, because earlier it just wasn’t working.  I think that, in taking the humourous path, the show should have built up more powerfully and then tossed itself more firmly over the top.  It was all a rather good-natured form of slapstick that may have benefited from pushing the envelope just a little more.  But in the end, I enjoyed the light-hearted and fun finale to what was an overall good experience.
  • And Mounties make for great icons.

Thanks for checking out my reviews, and thanks to Vancouver for a wonderful 2010!  Now we’ll all have to wait patiently until the next Opening Ceremony:  London, Summer 2012!  I hope they find a way to prevent their logo from causing mass seizures before then…  😉 

XOXO

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