Make Room for Experiential Meeting Design

August 21, 2018

Christy Lamagna

Christy Lamagna is the founder of and Master Strategist at Strategic Meetings & Events. For the last decade her focus has centered around disrupting the meetings industry. She is teaching planners to evolve into meeting strategists, who think with curious minds and learn to create meeting environments that shorten sales cycles and influence attendee behavior. A lifelong learner, intellectual philanthropist and author, Christy taught college-level strategic planning for 10 years which helped inspire her book, “The Strategic Planning Guide for Event Professionals.” Read all of Christy's "Get Strategic" blog posts for CEN here

Meeting design is a hot topic, and with good reason. An engaging event environment immerses attendees in an atmosphere that brings your marketing message to life. A cohesive marketing and communications strategy should include the entire event experience, from pre-show promotions and onsite through the post-show follow up. Defined event goals are the foundation for the messaging and knowing what attendees need to hear to improve their behavior is the bedrock for content.

If you’re not sure what a professional meeting designer does, this excerpt from my conversation with Julian Lwin, a spatial innovation and experiential design director, should prove illuminating. If you missed the first two installments, you can find them here:

Part One: Experience by Design
Part Two: Design Experiences that Elevate Brand Engagement

Planners often have tight timelines. Designers are not often associated with multi-tasking. On average, how long is your design process?

My design process can be a “rapid response” process or evolve over time. It is very dependent on client needs and timeframes. I have created “emergency” custom design solutions overnight for clients in need!

Not every event has expansive space. Do you require a minimum amount of space for a design?

As a trained industrial designer, I am used to working at any scale from a handheld product to a stadium sized experience - the design process is the same at any scale.

Can your work be shipped throughout the country or do you just work local to the NY area?

We work with specialist fine art shippers who take meticulous care packing and shipping sets and designs throughout the country. We are also able to leverage our relationship with a network of “local” vendors and fabrication resources who will create the necessary work closer to a clients’ venue.

Who is your perfect client?

A perfect client is one who is willing to fully invest in a project - not only financially but emotionally - an engaged partner who values risk-taking and fearless independence. A client with insight and inspiration who offers encouragement and the desire to create momentous work that leads to innovation and a sense of collective achievement.

What’s your three-year goal?

My goal is to become recognized as a leading designer in the field of spatial design and immersive experiences - oh, and work on a project in Tokyo too!

Do you specialize in an industry?

I am dexterous regarding the industries I work with. I believe good design is applicable and valued by all industries.

If I work for a company that sells a service you can still create an immersive experience, even though there is no physical product to showcase?

Yes absolutely, I work with many clients who develop software for example. We take the key attributes (storyline) of the software and build cohesive experiences and environments to exemplify the benefits and advantages of the software often combining architectural and graphic designs with immersive technology.

What tips/suggestions can you offer for someone who is responsible for creating event experiences on a smaller scale who is not yet ready to bring in an expert?

First identify key information and communicate it clearly and with intent. “Less is more”, a quote often attributed to the celebrated Modernist German-American architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, is valuable advice. For events it helps to focus on quality over quantity and on elements of surprise and delight which help to tell a story and create a memorable experience. Use neutral color palettes except for “hero” products or information which can be presented with more vibrancy.

Is there something you see being done that is well intentioned but that does not create the desired affect?

The world of AI (VR, MR & AR) is establishing new territories for events and experiences. This new dimension often comes at a cost (literally) where the experience within the VR setup doesn’t match up to the physical space surrounding it. I’d like to see better cohesion for experiences designed for engaging with VR - a headset attached to a ceiling doesn’t entice me.

How can someone reach you to find out more?

You can find out more about my work by going to my website at www.lwindesign.com and browsing through the diverse projects for an introduction to my work. You can also call the studio at 718.486.6103 to talk directly with me or to set up a meeting in person.

What’s the last book you’ve read?

Tales of Two Americas: Stories of Inequality in a Divided Nation, edited by John Freeman.

What words would your kids use to describe you?

Funny, Hardworking, Kind, Caring, Modern, Smart and Good.

Special thanks to Julian for the time, insight and expertise he shared. He not only transforms rooms, he lights them up with his stories and energy. I learned a lot from him and hope you found this three-part series informative. I’d love to hear your feedback. Find me at christy@strategic.events.

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Partner Voices

Business success — you may think it’s all about the bottom line, but savvy CEOs like those at Apple, Starbucks and IKEA know otherwise. Although profits play a big role, it’s also important for companies to be socially responsible by considering their impact on the environment, their local economy and their customers. One way that companies can practice corporate social responsibility (CSR) is by incorporating it into company events.