Design and Events
Design is valuable. It is so valuable that the success of the events world depends on it. Designer Massimo Vignelli said, “The life of a designer is a life of fight. Fight against the ugliness. Just like a doctor fights against disease. For us, the visual disease is what we have around, and what we try to do is cure it somehow with design.” Design is an interesting concept, isn’t it? It’s something we encounter every day, but hardly ever ponder. Unless you’re a designer, and you critically review each and every piece of your surroundings, design is often overlooked. When it comes to graphic design we know when something looks bad, or feels “off”. However, when we see good design, we aren’t quite sure what makes it appealing, but we’re nevertheless drawn to it immediately.
As a vital part of any live event, graphics and creative services are often seen, but never truly marveled over. Attendees are drawn to certain spaces often because of visual appeal. This is the job of the creative services team. Creating a space that delivers the results and experiences you set out to achieve. Our job is to transport the audience from a convention center hall to an extraordinary and visceral experience, all within your space.
Fern and Design
At Fern, we believe that in order to craft these experiential “getaways” within an event, we need the best creators. Trade shows and live events are built on the backs of material, physical labor, and lots of planning, but an event truly comes to life through design. Creativity begins with a simple philosophy: if you want to help shape an event into an experience, you need to start with recruiting the very best talent, and you need to cultivate an environment in which they can grow and express themselves. It’s as simple as that! You need the best creative minds, and you need to let them practice their craft. At Fern, we have a dedicated group of creatives that strive for innovation, resourcefulness and design brilliance each and every day.
I suppose I’ve been fortunate that I’ve been able to touch so many aspects of design and production; not only over the course of my professional career, but especially during my time at Fern. Not all designers can say they’ve worked with a company that respects design freedom as greatly as Fern does. Fern recognizes that good design impacts experiences and designers are the first piece of the equation. I’ve been able to take and apply the knowledge I’ve learned and shape the Fern team in a way that benefits everyone. I call this approach, this philosophy, our Creative Culture. You could say, it is our mission.
I think any designer worth their salt has had some horror stories about working in an environment where they felt they had to hold back, or where they were told to merely replicate something mediocre (or worse), with no creative freedom. The difference between Fern and other service providers is that our creative team is encouraged to find new avenues and push the status quo when it comes to design. With our competitors, quantity often trumps quality and a designer’s knowledge and suggestions are overlooked in order to finish a task and move on. I wanted something different for Fern. I wanted to break that mold, and fashion a better environment for our staff. An environment that is not only beneficial to the wonderful folks who come to work for Fern, but also beneficial to our account teams and sales people, along with the clients our designs service. We’ve come to realize that clients who work with the creative staff more directly are met with a product that more closely resembles their vision and they feel as though their expectations were not only met, but exceeded.
You might be wondering, how do I encourage design growth and innovation among our team? Inspiration can strike at any moment, and I encourage the creative team to seek it out in unexpected places. There’s a saying among designers that “creativity doesn’t punch a time card”, and there’s truth to that. Often, there is nothing more intimidating than the blank canvas of a sketch book or the empty void of a computer screen. However, when we communicate sincerely with our clients and do everything we can to understand every detail of their needs and wants, we get a better idea of how to craft a dream for them. We’re involved as early as the proposal process, learning, understanding, and building our synergy. Collecting information for inspiration at every step.
The Fern Difference
I encourage our team to speak up, providing them a voice, and they come to me with thoughts, both positive and negative, and with ideas that help contribute to our growth. Through this creative culture and by encouraging our team to apply their knowledge from experience at every turn, we’ve been able to fashion a work environment with state-of-the-art practices and constant growth and advancement.
When I was a new designer, and I had to render a 3D scene – a process that is incredible CPU (central processing unit) intensive – it meant my computer was tied up for an hour, “cooking” that single image. Learning from that experience and noting how time consuming it was, we’ve created a system that is more efficient and now have a “Render Farm”. This is a separate independent server exclusively for rendering, and accessible by the entire national team, both in branches and those working remotely. Using this system means we can queue up renders and the server can work 24/7, freeing the creative team up for the next item on their list, and allowing for more time to be devoted to the creative process.
We also approach larger projects in teams, assigning a lead designer, but allowing for various styles of creative talent to weigh in. We hold monthly team calls to discuss new initiatives and talk about new opportunities, aiming to improve our work in every facet. We do similar web calls for larger projects, going through each concept and allowing the project’s team to provide constructive feedback. In this way, we can internally experiment and vet ideas as a team, through many iterations, before taking it public to our internal account team or our clients. The result is a much richer product, and that is the kind of product we, as a creative group, want to share with our partners.
Going forward, we’re not only going to continue to craft our creative culture, both from an external perspective, but also internally. As I said, the most important element in the success of this team is ensuring we are hiring and keeping the very best talent, and maintaining an environment in which they can flourish and be their most creative. After all, when you hire the very best, and invest in the creative development of everyone, it benefits everyone involved!
For more information on Fern’s creative services check out the “What We Do” section of our website!